Novak Djokovic has started the season with a bang. The Serbian phenomenon won the ATP 250 in Adelaide and above all the Australian Open, leaving only one set on the street at Melbourne Park. By capturing his tenth ‘Down Under’ title, Nole tied his perennial rival Rafael Nadal at the top of the all-time Grand Slam leaderboard.
The 35-year-old from Belgrade also regained his position in the world rankings, ending the reign of Carlos Alcaraz (which began after the US Open 2022 and lasted 20 weeks). Given Nadal’s precarious physical condition, many believe that the ‘Djoker’ can once again aspire to the ‘Calendar Grand Slam’
Goran Ivanisevic’s pupil had already come close to this titanic feat in 2021, stopping just one victory from the finish line. Despite winning the AOs without too much difficulty, Novak still ended up in the eye of the storm due to his left knee injury and images of his father Srdjan together with some Putin supporters.
In a long interview with ‘CNN’, Mike Nakajima – who has worked for Nike for a long time – explained how Djokovic’s tendency to get involved in controversies has a negative impact on his ‘marketability’
Mike Nakajima on Nole Djokovic
“Novak Djokovic could well be the most successful tennis player ever.
But there’s always a dark cloud around him. It’s like he brings it upon himself,” reads an excerpt from the book. “He hits the lineswoman at the US Open and gets disqualified? It happens, I guess. But why does it always happen to Novak? Or the whole controversy about the Covid-19 vaccination,” Nakajima continued.
“Now, as a brand: do I want to be behind somebody who always has controversy around him? Or do I want to go with an athlete with a squeaky clean image? I’m not sure Rafa wants to be the highest-paid endorser in the world.
I don’t think he cares,” Nakajima explained. “Rafa is Rafa, he has done extremely well and I don’t think he needs anything else. Roger wanted to be marketed, so he appealed to different brands, audiences and consumer groups.
And his management company’s done an amazing job. He’s (Federer) able to appeal to any audience. And people believe that he’s saying the truth, whatever Roger pitches. He’s that believable,” Nakajima added on the Swiss maestro.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been staunchly defended by French tennis star Gilles Simon against allegations of feigning injuries to secure tournament victories.