Thanks to Rick for sharing his 2011 Indian Wells pics.

Entering the tournament:

Watching Nadal vs Del Potro:

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic practicing side by side:

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When Novak Djokovic cut his ties with adidas in favour of agreeing a 10-year deal with Sergio Tacchini in November 2009, many saw the announcement as being no great loss. Particularly when you consider that a player of similar stature (at the time) Britain’s Andy Murray signed a long-term, multi-million pound deal with adidas shortly after. Since that point however, the man they call ‘Nole’ has been formidable, blitzing all those that come before him, winning Grand Slam titles in the process and building a huge global following. In contrast, Andy Murray has now lost in three Grand Slam finals, and until recently has been struggling for form, casting doubt over his potential to achieve his ultimate ambition of winning a major championships.

For now however, the focus has to be on Djokovic and indeed Sergio Tacchini. The Chinese-owned brand has quite rightly bombarded the homepage of its central website with images of the tennis superstar, highlighting his position as global ambassador, referencing his third Australian Open win and even launching his own clothing line. A recent post I published on the Insight Sport blog touched upon the benefits of sponsors of major sporting events such as the Olympic Games aligning themselves with a portfolio of athletes as opposed to ‘putting all their eggs in one basket’ so to speak and focusing on one specific athlete – for a company the size of Sergio Tacchini it has little choice.

With an annual revenue of less than $50 million, the sportswear brand is reliant on Djokovic continuing his excellent form, whilst it can also fall back on his long term tennis heritage, having sponsored players such as John McEnroe, Pat Cash, Martina Hingis and Goran Ivanisevic in past times. In comparison, the likes of adidas and Nike are in a different league, with both sponsoring a number of high profile tennis stars across the men’s and women’s games. And with Nike recording revenues of $2.55 billion and the adidas $4.7 billion in Q3, 2011. At this point, one can only wonder at the impact Novak Djokovic could have had as an ambassador for adidas should it have retained the World Number one as an ambassador.

However all is not lost…

Adopting a long-term perspective, should Britain’s number one win a Grand Slam – he is showing signs of improvement under new coach Ivan Lendl – the effect could go beyond that of his close friend and nemesis. Given his nationality and the popularity of tennis in the UK, his appeal would reach out not only across his homeland, but also globally, given his delay in achieving what many say is his destiny. Djokovic meanwhile has hit his mesmeric heights now, there is evidence to suggest that Murray is slowly closing the gap, whilst Djokovic’s relatively small home market of Serbia is not one of significant importance to the adidas brand.

For now, one thing is clear, Djokovic is the driving force in men’s tennis, and deserves the accolades he is receiving, and Sergio Tacchini is revelling in his successes. Until Andy Murray wins a Slam, adidas must simply face up to the fact that they missed a trick in releasing Djokovic, although should that day arrive where Murray comes face to face with destiny, expect adidas to turn around and give a big ‘I told you so’ in the direction of those who doubted.

By Andreas Plastiras

Check out Andreas’ blog Snap Shot Sport

Best of January 2012:

Australian Open 2012

The Australian Open: 2 fantastic weeks of tennis.

Esther Vergeer‘s winning streak continues: she notched her 444th consecutive win, defeating Aniek Van Koot 6-0, 6-0 to capture the Women’s Wheelchair singles title.

Victoria Azarenka claims her first Grand Slam title and becomes the new WTA number 1.

Novak Djokovic has now won 4 or the last 5 Grand Slams.

Andy Murray hires tennis legend Ivan Lendl as his new coach, wins his first title of the year in Brisbane, and reaches the Australian Open semifinals. And there’s even more: he seemed to have fun on court!

Bernard Tomic: winner in Kooyong, semifinalist in Brisbane, he reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. He’s perhaps the real deal after all…

Lleyton Hewitt‘s incredible run, and Nadal’s nice words about the Australian veteran.

I always liked him, his spirit of competition. Today he is an example to follow for a lot people. He deserves all the respect of the people who love this sport and respect and admiration of everyone

January tournament winners: Kaia Kanepi (Brisbane), Andy Murray (Brisbane), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Doha), Milos Raonic (Chennai), Zheng Jie (Auckland), David Ferrer (Auckland), Victoria Azarenka (Sydney), Jarkko Nieminen (Sydney), Mona Barthel (Hobart)

2 blogs to follow: The Grand Slam Gal and I have a tennis addiction

Worst of January 2012:

Margaret Court‘s well-known homophobia has reached new heights. Read more about it here: A disappointing irony behind Court’s comments. I mean, they really should rename the Margaret Court Arena into Evonne Goolagong Arena, it would sound so much better, no?

Caroline Wozniacki. No need to add more. At least, she’s not the number one anymore, a really good news for the WTA.

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Lleyton Hewitt wins his first ATP singles title as a 16-year old wild card ranked 550 in the world, defeating fellow Australian Jason Stoltenberg 3-6 6-3 7-6 in his hometown of Adelaide.
At the age of 16 years and 11 months, Hewitt becomes the youngest player to win an ATP singles title since Michael Chang, at the age of 16 years and 8 months, wins the title in San Francisco in 1988.

Says Stoltenberg after the match:

He just played like a 16-year old. You do what comes naturally rather than thinking what you should do.

Source: On this day in tennis history by Randy Walker

Evolved from the year-end tournament known as the Masters Grand Prix that began in 1970, the ATP World Tour Finals has been held at the O2 Arena in London since 2009.
Its move to London definitely breathed new life into the event, which had suffered from player withdrawals during its stint in Shanghai.

GMT

The O2 Arena itself brings a glam factor to the tournament, which already has a marquee line-up but has now also acquired an A-list audience. The sell-out crowds do not only get a chance to rub shoulders with the elite of world tennis, but also catch a glimpse of a glittering array of sports stars and celebrities. Among those spotted last year include Princess Beatrice, Kylie Minogue, Kevin Spacey, and Diego Maradona.

ATP World Tour Finals, O2 Arena, London
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