Mike Nakajima, former CEO of Nike, explained why the American giant preferred Roger Federer to Novak Djokovic.
He explained: "There is nothing against Novak: he is a great player, he speaks well and can become the greatest player of all time.But from a marketing point of view, we felt that Serbia wasn't a big market for us, so we didn't take it into consideration. Switzerland wasn't that big either, but when Federer became Roger Federer, has become a global athlete and that has been quite defining for us.Nike thought that Roger was a very promising young athlete and saw that the game was moving to Europe."
Nike then decided to also sign the other big rival, Nadal: "Spain is a huge market for Nike and Rafa has a great following, so Roger and Rafa are the athletes with whom we decided to hang our hat, and you have to stay true to your ideas.
When they're 16, 17 or 18 everyone knows them, especially our competitors, so we focus on 11, 12, 13 and 14 year olds." Finally, Nakajima clarifies the reasons for the separation from Federer, and does not hide a hint of regret: "It should never have happened.
To let such a person go is an atrocity. Roger Federer was linked to Nike for the rest of his career. Just like Michael Jordan. Like LeBron James, like Tiger Woods. He is among the greatest Nike athletes of all time. I'm still disappointed.
But it happened. I have to get over it. It wasn't my decision and I wasn't there." Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are considered by many insiders to be the three strongest players the Game has ever had. The three champions have carried with them, for most of their careers, a nickname that has identified their rivalry on the circuit, the so-called 'big three'
Their appeal on the market has always been extremely attractive. Automatically, many clothing brands battled each other, to contend and associate their name with that of these extraordinary athletes. Federer was signed by Nike in 1994 and sported the company's famous swoosh throughout his 20 Grand Slam triumphs.
The Swiss remained there for over a decade, stipulating an agreement, which brought 12 million a year into his coffers. Subsequently, the Basel tennis player signed an agreement with Uniqlo, becoming brand ambassador. This collaboration seems to have earned him almost 30 million dollars a year, therefore more than half of the previous contract.