Novak Djokovic has ended his sponsorship agreement with Sergio Tacchini and will sign with Japanese fashion house Uniqlo.

The deal, which is yet to be confirmed, would represent a coup for Uniqlo, whose only other tennis playing endorser is top-ranked Japanese player Kei Nishikori.

Djokovic is expected to be unveiled as a Uniqlo ambassador ahead of the French Open in Paris, which starts on 27th May.

Djokovic signed a ten-year endorsement agreement with Sergio Tacchini, a fashion brand named after an Italian tennis player, in November 2009. Tacchini was able to sign Djokovic by offering him a smaller guarantee than the larger companies would pay, but promised bigger should he do well. When Djokovic kept winning, the company fell behind on payments to the tennis star.
Another problem was distribution. Many of Djokovic’s Grand Slam outfits never even made to the United States, including the apparel he wore when he won last year’s US Open.

In an emailed statement to media the clothing company said:

“It has been mutually and amicably decided that, as of the 2012 Roland Garros Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic will no longer be the brand ambassador.”

Update, 22th of May: Djokovic split with Sergio Tacchini and will sign with Japanese brand Uniqlo.

Let’s have a look at Djokovic‘s kit for Roland Garros.

Below, some pics of the outfit designed by Sergio Tacchini before Djokovic left for Uniqlo:

Sergio Tacchini Men’s Djokovic Summer Bigace Polo
The polo features a collar, 3 button placket, red and blue contrast coloring down right hand side of shirt, Sergio Tacchini logo on left chest and right, and ‘Nole’ logo on bottom back hem of shirt.

Novak Djokovic Roland Garros 2012 outfitNovak Djokovic Roland Garros 2012 outfit
Novak Djokovic Roland Garros 2012 outfitNovak Djokovic Roland Garros 2012 outfit

Sergio Tacchini Men’s Djokovic Summer Befit Short
The short features an elastic waistband, draw chord, contrast coloring of red and blue down right leg, pockets, tonal mesh inset on inner thighs, and a printed ST logo on left leg.

Novak Djokovic Roland Garros 2012 outfitNovak Djokovic Roland Garros 2012 outfit

Here is a comprehensive look at the Sergio Tacchini Spring/Summer 2012 Collection.

For female tennis players, Sergio Tacchini has created the Pro-Match line, rich in technical and practical details that guarantee high performance without foregoing femininity. Coming in white, China blue and bright sea blue, the garments are cut to support and move with the body.

Bella dress:

Bilia Polo – Bitta skirt:

For male players who seek a sophisticated image also on court, the brand new entry is the elegant Retro Match line, with a vintage vibe inspired by the brand’s historic archives, revisited in two different versions: one characterised by coloured embossed “ST” logos, such as on the slim-fit polo shirt with two-tone stripes on the sleeves and enamelled snap fasteners, while the other revolves around the tech version of the Young Line polo shirt and on placed stripes, seen also in the matching tracksuit.
The two polo shirts are teamed with shorts and pants in double-face knit, with striped waistband to accentuate the sophisticated personality of this line.

Simple shapes for Essential Match, designed for amateur players that seek high performance garments with no-fuss graphics. In this case, colour is the distinctive feature, used as all-over shades in the Tees, as a detail in the polo shirts or in contrasting combos in the tracksuits.

Ballo polo – Balk vest – Baluardo shorts:

Two lines have also been developed for Novak Djokovic: the one he wore at the Australian Open, and another one for the Internazionali di Roma (Rome Masters), scheduled in May.
And once again, both designs are graphically inspired by the flag of Serbia, Djokovic’s country of origin. In addition to the two playing kits, which come in two versions, white for daytime matches and black for evening ones, are the tracksuits and matching accessories, such as the cap, wristbands and racket bag.

I guess creativity is not Tacchini’s forte, they should perhaps ask Stella McCartney to reinterprate the Serbian flag the way she did for the Union Jack

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

Traditional colors of red, white, blue and black for Novak Djokovic:

Sergio Tacchini's kit for Novak Djokovic
Sergio Tacchini's kit for Novak Djokovic
Sergio Tacchini's kit for Novak Djokovic

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