Novak Djokovic is on the brink of history at the US Open with a pair of all-time accolades close at hand. An Open title would complete the first men’s Grand Slam calendar since Rod Laver 52 years ago. It would also mark a 21st major title, beating the all-time 20-man bar currently held by Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Win or lose this fortnight, Djokovic will always watch Federer off the pitch. Federer is the highest paid tennis player, earning three times as much as Djokovic from endorsements and $ 84 million in total. Djokovic ranks fourth with $ 33.4 million including price, and follows Naomi Osaka ($ 55.2 million) and Serena Williams ($ 35.5 million). Earnings estimates include cash prizes, endorsements, bonuses, royalties, and appearance fees earned during the 12 months ending May 31.
Federer turned 40 in August, and a week later announced he needed a third knee surgery and would miss the Open. He may never return to the court, but the ace of Swiss tennis will always be there. “Federer is iconic,” said Bob Dorfman, sports marketing expert at Pinnacle Advertising, in a telephone interview. “He’s one of those guys who will be marketable long after his career is over. “
Federer is the first tennis player to rack up $ 1 billion in career earnings, but his biggest paycheck could be on the horizon by Swiss sneaker brand On. Federer invested in the company in late 2019 as part of an endorsement deal and received a “significant” stake, according to a source at the time. Investors got a sneak peek at the company’s financial data last week when it filed its F-1, which the SEC requires foreign companies to file ahead of U.S. IPO plans. The company called Federer an “active co-entrepreneur” in the case. Federer’s sports agency, TEAM8, which he created with Tony Godsick, is also an investor.
On’s revenue jumped 85% in the first six months of 2021 to $ 344 million. The IPO’s valuation is expected to reach $ 6 billion to $ 8 billion, according to Seeking Alpha. A 3% stake for Federer would be worth around $ 200 million at that price. TEAM8 would not comment on Federer’s participation.
Federer spent 20 years decked out from head to toe at Nike as a brand ambassador, but their split in 2018 saw him sign a pair of contracts potentially worth nine figures. He signed a 10-year clothing contract with Uniqlo worth $ 300 million, a staggering commitment to a then 36-year-old tennis player. The deal left an opening for a separate sneaker deal, and Federer filled the approval slot the following year with On.
Federer’s big three, Nadal and Djokovic have captured 60 of the last 72 Slam events, including 17 of the last 18, but a new generation of stars are looking to challenge their reign. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem have all climbed to the top six in the world and are among the top 10 highest paid players including prize money. The difference in bank accounts and brand awareness of the new generation compared to the Big Three is due to the lack of victories of young people on the bigger stage.
Medvedev, the second seed at the US Open, is seen as Djokovic’s biggest obstacle to completing the Slam schedule. Sponsors turned to the Russian 6-6, pushing his off court income to $ 10 million a year. Lacoste locked him up until 2026 as part of a five-year contract extension that industry insiders estimate at $ 25-30 million. Other partners include Technibre, Bovet, Tinkoff, and HyperX.
Austria’s Thiem won the US Open last year, triggering lucrative bonuses from Adidas. He’s the only male under-30 to win a slam, but he’s been out since June with a wrist injury, and he turns 28 this week.
Tsitsipas has been nicknamed the “Greek god” for his beauty, and he is featured in Voguethe September issue. He just turned 23 and has signed deals with Adidas, Wilson, Rolex and several Greek brands.
Zverev, who won Olympic gold in Tokyo after beating Djokovic in the semifinals, had the lucrative German market to tap into, but his brand was badly damaged by allegations of abuse last year by a old girlfriend. Zverev has denied the allegations. He was vying for a lucrative extension with Adidas last year, but the German clothing giant did not renew his deal after the accusations, according to multiple sources. Adidas would not comment.
The biggest marketing stars in men’s tennis, from John McEnroe to Andre Agassi to the current Big Three, all shared one thing that sparked the wealth of endorsement. “These guys have to win and win consistently to break through,” Dorfman said. “The events of the Grand Slam are what attract this casual fan.”