The Djokovic model of adidas tennis shoes is nothing new for Tomas Berdych.
He wears them all the time.
But the Internet and the tabloids discovered it during his Wimbledon semifinal against Roger Federer on Friday.
And so it became a pretty big deal for a few hours.
The tabloid headline writers clearly didn’t quite grasp how low the odds were that Berdych would be paying tribute to another tennis player who had not, to our knowledge, passed away or otherwise suffered great trauma.
It was definitely not a Jack Sock – Bethanie Mattek-Sands situation.
The Telegraph blared:
“Tomas Berdych pays classy trainer tribute to injured Novak Djokovic”.
The Express yelled:
“TOMAS BERDYCH wore a bizarre tribute to Novak Djokovic against Roger Federer!”
When you think about it, it was pretty ironic.
Novak Djokovic was the man who theoretically should have been standing across the net from Federer in this semifinal.
But the three-time champion retired after a set and two games against Berdych in the quarterfinals with a chronic elbow issue.
And so, the Czech, who reached the singles final here in 2010, benefited from a somewhat free pass.
Shoes are a tough fit
The Czech player has the same issue many players have when switching clothing brands. In his case, from Nike to H&M to adidas in a short period of time.
Djokovic wears the adidas shoes (the company he used to endorse) for a reason.
For one thing, when you find a comfortable pair of shoes, you stick with them. Blistered feet are painful, loser’s feet.
The Serb’s subsequent sponsors, Sergio Tacchini and Uniqlo, didn’t make shoes. And most of the players who wear clothes made by his new clothing sponsor, Lacoste, wear other brands of shoes.
(Tacchini used to be in the tennis shoe business. But there were always complaints about their footwear. Pete Sampras, who represented the Italian company back in the day, used to suffer from shin splints and was concerned the shoes didn’t do enough to protect his feet. So he had to negotiate his way out of his deal. Martina Hingis, back in the day, filed a lawsuit against them.)
Officially, Berdych endorses the adidas Barricade model. But he said in the press conference after his loss to Federer that he has to wear the Djoko-sneaks, the “Novak Pro” model.
“I’m wearing Novak shoes because the other shoes just doesn’t fit well to me, so that’s why I have to play in the shoes that they are fitting well and doesn’t hurt my feet,” he said.
If Djokovic couldn’t be there, at least he was representing. Which probably brought him no comfort at all.