Nike pares down, but players find new homes

BRISBANE, Australia – It appears tennis clothing giant Nike did a serious culling of the herd at the end of the 2019 season.

And the players affected are mostly in the women’s game.

But the good news is that most of them have bounced back with other brands.

And in some cases, it might turn out to be a positive move.

“Nike’s been the only brand I’ve known, for 14 years. It was a big decision. But my contract was expiring and K-Swiss, really wanted to get into tennis again after being in and out for a few years,” Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic said.

Tomljanovic, currently ranked No. 54, reached a career high of No. 39 back in April as she made a successful return from shoulder surgery.

Her new deal with K-Swiss will officially be announced Monday.

The face of a new brand

Tomljanovic has already met their entire team. And they’re in the process of creating a line for which the attractive 26-year-old will be the standard-bearer.

“My first tennis dress was K-Swiss when I was nine, so it’s kind of funny,” Tomljanovic. “It’s almost full circle.”

The Aussie is in good company. Other players more highly ranked also found themselves at the end of their contracts, and looking for another option.

Caroline Garcia of France, the No. 2 French player currently ranked No. 48 – but who was as high as No. 4 a little over a year ago – was another casualty.

Maria Sakkari, ranked No. 23 in the world, was another.

Former Nike athletes Sakkari and Tomljanovic practice together in Brisbane Sunday. Sakkari is now with adidas; Tomljanovic will be the new face of K-Swiss. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

So was promising Polish player Iga Świątek, the 2018 junior Wimbledon champion who has already reached the top 50 and is still just 18.

Who else? Borna Coric, 23, who has been in or near the top 20 for the last year and a half.

There are other, lesser-known players who also haven’t been wearing Nike to start this season.

Who’s next? From what we understand, Genie Bouchard may also be a free agent when her contract expires March 1. And there might be a few more.

As it is, the Canadian former No. 5 has not earned any income from her Nike clothing deal for nearly two years. She’s in the non-guaranteed phase of her deal (which is fairly standard). And the drop in her fortunes means she has been at what’s called “100 per cent reduction” – i.e., not qualifying for any bonuses based on ranking levels.

Asics picks up three

Coric’s Asics debut in the ATP Cup was a success.

Asics has picked up Garcia, Świątek and Coric.

Sakkari’s new deal with adidas means the company now has both rising Greek stars – Sakkari and top-10 men’s player Stefanos Tsitsipas.

And that’s something that could mean significantly more exposure for her than she would get as a lower-priority player with Nike.

For Tomljanovic, a Croatian who has lived in Florida for years and who finally became eligible to represent Australia in international play at last November’s Fed Cup final, it’s a positive step.

She’s at a point in her career where she feels ready for, and looks forward to, the challenge of being the face of a brand.

“I was really happy the way I looked in Nike. But then I sometimes looked around and saw a lot of girls wearing the same thing. To be different (i.e., get a bespoke line, as Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal do) in Nike, you have to be winning Slams. And obviously I’m not doing that right now. But with K-Swiss, I’ll be the face of it, and that means something to me as well. It was just a point in my career where I was also ready to do that,” Tomljanovic said.

“It was a change I didn’t know how to feel about. But now that I’m in it, I’m pretty happy,” she added.

It should be noted that of all the Nike female players, Tomljanovic was always dressed the most impeccably in the brand’s practice and workout wear off the court. Without fail. And she looked spectacular in it, although she looks spectacular in just about everything.

The bulk of the spoils to a very few

Sakkari already has the adidas practice gear happening in Brisbane. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

The tendency in tennis, and with Nike in particular, has always been to concentrate the big money at the very top.

During recent years when they had Nadal, Roger Federer, Williams and Maria Sharapova, those four got a huge percentage of the overall tennis sponsorship budget.

But the reality is that even Federer – as many “RF” hats as you see around tournament sites – during his peak Nike years moved relatively little merchandise.

We’re comparing this to the bigger team sports, obviously.

There’s a reason Michael Jordan has a lucrative, lifetime deal and Nike felt Federer – for all of his accomplishments – did not justify that same type of up-front investment.

At the same time, Nike is the gold standard in tennis. Being a “Nike athlete” has significance. And they also pay better than anyone else, if they want you – and if maximize all your bonuses.

Standing out on your own

Garcia debuted her new Asics kit Monday in Auckland, in her first-round match against Taylor Townsend. (

It’s possible that Tomljanovic and perhaps some others could have stayed with Nike on purely bonus-based contracts.

But those types of deals put outsized pressure on performance in a business that’s already overloaded with pressure from all sides.

And the reality is that their career window to maximize earnings is relatively short. So there’s a lot to balance.

“Nike has a lot of great athletes, at the top it’s heavy. They’ve been really good to me in my whole career, and I was really happy with them, but I think it was just point in my career to take another direction, and I found a really nice one,” Tomljanovic said.

“You always look at what’s around when your contract is expiring, and if nothing really clicks, you don’t make a change. But the timing was that K-Swiss was interested, so it just kind of happened.”

Osaka, Anisimova a priority

Last spring, Nike signed Naomi Osaka away from Adidas. Osaka obviously is a huge entry into the lucrative Asian market.

New for ’20: Maria Sakkari joins adidas

Nike also recently signed 18-year-old American teenager Amanda Anisimova to a lucrative, long-term deal.

To put a female twist on an old expression, to pay Petra, sometimes you have to rob Paula.

Tomljanovic, seen here at the Rogers Cup in 2010, spent 14 years as a Nike athlete. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

But it’s long been obvious that unless you’re one of the very top players, the off-court income streams are hard to come by. Agents have to find creative and original ways to get their players more money.

Tomljanovic has been around long enough to know what to expect when you finish the season ranked No. 50, and your deal is expiring.

“You also kind of know that they’re not going to be fighting over me. I’m realistic enough to know how the business goes. But you also know your value, what you can get out of a different brand,” she said.

“I guess in a way, I just wanted to get my value, be seen out there, be the only one who wears something.”

The turnover in the off-season means that there will be a lot of promotional material on the WTA website that will be well out of date.

Garcia (seen here at the 2011 US Open junior girls’ final), also spent her entire career with Nike – until 2020. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

They made a quick adjustment with Osaka when the Nike deal was announced last April; her photo doesn’t stylistically match the other official WTA promotional material. But at least she’s got the swoosh.

But we’re likely to see Świątek, Garcia, Sakkari and Tomljanovic in their old Nike gear for a while – off court, if not on court.

Tomljanovic had nothing but praise for the company as they parted ways.

“I’ve had injuries and setbacks, and Nike has been amazing with me, they stuck with me, and believed in me a lot. We ended on really good terms. We’re still friends, which doesn’t happen most of the time,” she said.

“It’s probably my best breakup so far,” she added, laughing.

New for ’20: Maria Sakkari joins adidas

BRISBANE, Australia – Beyond the coaching changes with a new season, there also are inevitable changes in clothing sponsors.

But this one definitely went under the radar.

Until today, when we spotted No. 1 Greek women’s player Maria Sakkari practiced in Brisbane wearing … adidas.

Sakkari, a 24-year-old currently ranked No. 23, had been with Nike (and worn it extremely well).

She had been with them at least since 2016 – if not before. Basically, most of her professional career.

And she’s not the only Nike player to be cut loose as 2020 dawns, as you can read in the story linked to below.

Nike pares down, but players find new homes

The first thing that stood out we walked by were the … shoes. The laceless shoes.


Sakkari told Tennis.Life that the shoes were really, really comfortable.


Cross-marketing with that other Greek player

The new partnership with adidas creates intriguing possibilities for the company, as it now has the top Greek man and woman on board.

And Tsitsipas is top 10 on the ATP side.

They’re both young, extremely attractive people. And you’d think the company could make good use of that for promotional purposes.

As well, those laceless shoes will definitely solve a big Tsitsipas problem from 2019.



New adidas looks good in qualifying

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – For those interested in the US Open collections from the various kit manufacturers, we’ve all seen the heavily Photoshopped promotional handouts that are released leading up to the final Grand Slam of the season.

But how do they fit?

How do they look when the players move?

Are the color choices such that the sweat stains are somewhat alarming (see Nike – mustard-colored US Open series shorts)?

The qualifying is a good opportunity to actually see the kits in action. Because if the lower-ranked players are sponsored, they’ll be wearing them then.

That’s how we knew that Nike’s “baby doll, accordion-pleated” white dress at Wimbledon a few years ago was going to be … about what we expected it might be.

adidas colors shine

For adidas, which has generally outshone its bigger tennis competitor, Nike, in recent years (more Nike’s fault than theirs, really), the new kits are pretty terrific.

They don’t necessarily make a statement as the “Pharell Williams” collection did. But they’re really smashing – especially the women’s outfit.

Here’s China’s Shilin Xu, a 21-year-old ranked No. 215 who rates new adidas gear, (although not a photo – or any other pertinent information other than her birthdate – on the WTA Tour website).

Xu beat Victoria Duval in the first round of qualifying, upset No. 32 seed Varvara Flink in the second, and lost to Mariam Bolkvadze in three sets in the final round.

If we have one bone to pick, it’s this (not new) notion of having the visors and shoes completely unrelated to the colours in the kit.

Either of these is a better option.

(From Tennis Warehouse)

As well, when the wind picks up at the US Open (as it usually does), those pleats are going to be flying all over the place. And that can prove a distraction as some of the women worry about exposing their … undergarments.

Brooksby flies the colors in Qs

Meanwhile, American teen Jenson Brooksby flew the new adidas colors all the way to the main draw on the men’s side.

Brooksby had won two $25,000 ITFs earlier in the summer – 10 matches, only four of which featured opponents who had an actual ATP Tour ranking at the time.

But he lost 6-2, 6-2, to Ernesto Escobedo in the first round of the Aptos Challenger in California a few weeks ago.

So, at No. 394 in the rankings (close to his career high), you wouldn’t have picked the wild card to make the US Open main draw.

He got a main-draw wild card a year ago after winning the U.S. Boys’ 18s in his final year of junior eligibility. But he managed just six games against Aussie John Millman in the first round.

This year, Brooksby beat Kaichi Uchida and No. 27 seed Yuichi Sugita – both tough outs – in the first two rounds. And then, he took Pedro Martinez of Spain (who had upset Tommy Paul in the second round) in three sets to make it to the show again.

It was an impressive effort, to say the least, for a kid who will be a freshman at Baylor University this fall.

Brooksby drew veteran Tomas Berdych, who has played little this summer and is on his protected ranking, in the first round.

With G.E.M.S. history, MladenoThiem a power

The only thing that could have made Sunday better for Dominic Thiem and Kristina Mladenovic would have been for Thiem to beat Rafael Nadal and win Roland Garros

Otherwise, the low-key couple of nearly two years had a great fortnight.

Mladenovic won the women’s doubles after logging hours courtside supporting her beau. She also took over the No. 1 ranking.

It’s not all “love” out there, though., the Instagram account started by lovebirds Gaël Monfils and Elina Svitolina, is defunct.

Avid Insta watchers also note their respective accounts have been “scrubbed” of each other’s existence.  

No. 1 Osaka goes adidas =====> Nike

Nike is saving itself a fair bit of coin by not having Roger Federer in the stable any more.

And it’s made its first big splash, by luring world No. 1 Naomi Osaka over to the Swoosh side.

No doubt it’s a big, lucrative contract. And it adds another top brand to Osaka’s other sponsorship deals. Over the six months since she shocked Serena Williams and won the US Open, Osaka has cashed in big time.

The announcement is made even more interesting by the fact that the last we really heard about it – after the US Open – it appeared Osaka would stay with adidas.

She was reportedly “set” to sign a “record-breaking” extension to her adidas deal that would pay her a reported $8.5 million a year

That trial balloon was later debunked by the Japan Times. That newspaper indicated that she was still up for auction, and that Uniqlo (which obviously made the most sense) and Nike were in the running.

No doubt the bidding was fast and furious. 

And Nike won.

In retrospect, when we noted that it was interesting that the photo Osaka posted from an ESPN The Magazine story featured a logo-less, generic outfit a few weeks ago – it was more interesting than we knew.

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Big addition to the Nike team

The press-release quote from Osaka:

“I’m proud to become a member of the Nike family and excited about getting involved in all of the opportunities Nike has to offer. Nike has a legendary track record of writing history and I look forward to being a part of those moments for many years to come.”

The quote from Amy Montagne, “GM of Global Categories” for Nike: 

 “As we continue to inspire millions of athletes to chase their crazy dreams, Naomi is an incredible talent to add to our roster and help drive our commitment to inspiring a new generation of female athletes. We are thrilled to have her join our team.”

As usual with Nike, no mention of the length of the deal (or, obviously, the dollars involved).

The time frame of the rollout (including Osaka’s Tweet, below), tells you it was aimed at the Asian market. It’s Friday morning over there, but very late Thursday night on the east coast of the U.S. and late evening on the west coast.

And it’s the middle of the night in Europe.

Whither Uniqlo?

Given the reportedly insane amount of dollars Uniqlo will be giving Federer over the next decade, you’d think Uniqlo would have won this bidding war.

The fact that Uniqlo founder and chairman Tadashi Yanai is reportedly worth $23 billion and can buy any toys he wants only adds to that notion.

And it’s especially true with the Olympics coming up next year in Tokyo.

But perhaps Yanai isn’t as big on women’s tennis as he is on men’s tennis.

It will also be interesting to see whether Osaka, who will be big in the Asian market, will have the same exemption China’s Li Na had. Li was allowed to wear all of her other sponsorship patches on her Nike gear, unlike Nike’s other athletes – including Federer, Nadal and Serena Williams.

(Ben Rothenberg with the answer to that question:)

The promotional photo Nike released with its announcement (not surprisingly), contains no logos.

Osaka won’t play again until the Stuttgart event in 2 1/2 weeks. So we’ll see then.

Hopefully they will come up with some bespoke outfits for her, befitting a world No. 1. With the short turnaround time (given the average 18 months needed to design and produce a clothing line), it might take awhile for “Osaka Nike” to make a splash.

She looked terrific in the adidas – notably this year, with Nike’s main lines a design most tennis fans were tired of by the second week of the Australian Open.

Three years ago in Charleston, Osaka (wearing adidas) had just broken into the top 100 with a third-round result in Miami. She won two qualifying matches, but lost 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 to Louise Chirico in the first round of the main draw. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Adidas left out

It’s a common thing in tennis that the companies that sign players early in their careers, giving them money, and equipment (or clothing) long before they make it, are left in the cold when a player really does make it big.

Osaka has been wearing adidas since 2015 (she wore Yonex clothing in 2014).

Her deal expired at the end of 2018.

Osaka at the Granby Challenger in July, 2015 (her first year with adidas. She was ranked No. 159 at the time. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

That’s four years. And when she first began wearing it, Osaka was ranked outside the top 250. Not many people knew who she was.

Clearly she collected some nice bonuses from the company over the last few years, as her ranking rose to the top.

But all of that doesn’t matter a bit.

Once the players get to the top, and the big-dollar offers come, that’s pretty much it. The numbers and term will likely leak out eventually. But given the number that was floated for the adidas non-deal last September, it’s likely more than that.

We’ve seen it with players who have even changed racquets for the dough. That is a far more significant thing, in terms of their actual tennis, than what they’re wearing.

And we’ve seen some of them struggle and lose a big part of a season making the adjustment.

This change, obviously, is easier.

There’s no loyalty. But that’s the business.

If someone offers you a huge cheque, you’d be a fool not to take it.

Puig: Ellesse –> Yonex in 24 hours (and other fashion notes)

With the flipping of the calendar from 2018 to 2019, Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig had a complete change of attire in the middle of the same tournament.

Must have involved some extra baggage charges on the trip Down Under.

On Dec. 31, 2018 as the Rio Olympic gold medalist defeated wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland, she was wearing the Ellesse kit she had been sporting for four years.

On Jan. 2, 2019, for her second round against No. 3 seed Hsieh Su-Wei – a totally  different look.

Puig was decked out all in Yonex, which also is her racket sponsor.

(That Puig lost to Hsieh 6-1, 7-6 likely had less to do with the new look than it did the comprehensive bit of taping on her right shoulder).

A lot of changes for 2019

The Yonex kit is actually terrific. And that has not always been the case for the company’s line of women’s tennis outfits.

So that’s a plus.

They might think about maybe relocating her AT&T sponsorship patch, though.

That one stood out against the blue of the old kit. Stuck on the lilac, it kind of blends into the background.

Puig had posted a photo on social media a few weeks ago during preseason in which she wasn’t wearing the usual Ellesse, but a Yonex top.

That was the giveaway, although the pic was later deleted.

Puig’s coach hasn’t made the switch yet.

Konta in Ellesse

Puig coach Todero is sticking with the old Ellesse stuff as 2019 begins (WTATV)

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta of Great Britain has joined countryman Cameron Norrie in the Ellesse stable for 2019.

Konta had been wearing Asics.

But when she appeared on Jan. 1 and pulled off an upset against Sloane Stephens in the first round of Brisbane, she was wearing a rather retro-looking Ellesse kit.

The shoes were horribly mismatched, though; she’ll have to get on that.


Former Ellesse ambassador Feliciano Lopez also is gone, to the Italian brand Hydrogen.

Hydrogen makes a move with Berdych

Bertens in Fila

Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, who joined the top 10 in 2018, got there wearing Mizuno.

As the new season dawns, she’s wearing FILA. And nice-looking Fila at that.


Suárez Navarro needs wardrobe function

Spanish veteran Carla Suárez Navarro remains with Lotto.

But judging by her listless defeat in the first round in Brisbane – she got just three games against Anett Kontaveit – a major wardrobe adjustment is in order.

Suárez Navarro would have nothing to do with the low-cut, racerback top she was given to wear.

As is – NOTHING to do with it.

She wore a rather more modest undershirt beneath it to ease any concern about accidental visuals.

The wardrobe struggle was real for Carla Suárez Navarro during her season-opening loss to Anett Kontaveit in Brisbane.

But beyond that, was the length of the skirt – or lack thereof.

Generously listed at 5-foot-4, the Spaniard shouldn’t generally have an issue with skirts being too short. But this one was.

As well, she kept … having to pull down the attached shorties (we girls know this feeling all too well).


It seems like nothing. But it doesn’t take much to throw a player off her game. And being thoroughly uncomfortable in her tennis duds will do it.

Kontaveit in Lacoste


After years wearing adidas (although we don’t know 100 per cent that it was an actual financial sponsorship), the Estonian Kontaveit has kicked off 2019 in Lacoste.

She trounced Suárez Navarro and, on Wednesday, Petra Kvitova to advance to the Brisbane quarterfinals.

So – so far, so good, although that center-pleat idea was probably best left in the 1970s.

Leggings are in

EllesseellesseWith the adjustment-clarification-change in the rule for the women and wearing leggings on the court in 2019 (call it whatever you prefer), a few veterans in Shenzhen have wasted no time taking it to the max.


The less-than balmy temperatures have made it far less a fashion statement than a necessity.

Which, of course, was what it always was before the French Open brouhaha with Serena Williams that led to the “clarification” of the rule.


Some new Nike – please

A lot of the players won’t debut their 2019 tennis wear until the Australian Open.

EllesseWhich means that sort-of-mismatched Stella McCartney adidas outfit is still around (with Caroline Wozniacki, among others, wearing it).

Worse: it means that … Fall 2018 Nike gear is still around.

No matter what iteration it’s in – the mismatched colours, the skirt with the unflattering horizontal lines, the short-sleeve tucked shirt, the Sloane Stephens outfit, or the too-short racerback top sported by Belinda Bencic in Perth – it’s an eyesore.

Melbourne can’t arrive soon enough.

(All screenshots from WTA TV)

Muguruza featured in worldwide campaign

Spanish star Garbiñe Muguruza is getting a big push from adidas this fall.

She’s one of five women featured in a worldwide campaign for its “Statement Collection” along with British singer Dua Lipa, supermodel Karlie Kloss, Canadian actress Shay Mitchell and Hannah Bronfman.

Muguruza, obviously, is the only adidas athlete – the only athlete, period.

The collection features “23 high-performance pieces curated for female athletes who take a versatile approach to training, including “floral camo and geometric prints inspired by Stella McCartney” that “make a statement before, during and after every workout”.

Sources: Halep parting ways with adidas

Simona Halep is the No. 1 player on the WTA Tour.

She was voted Fan Favorite on Friday for the first time.

But as of right now, industry sources tell Tennis.Life the 26-year-old Romanian doesn’t have a clothing sponsor for 2018.

Unless something gets done at the very last minute, Halep and adidas are parting ways at what is approaching the peak of Halep’s career. She goes into 2018 one of the favorites to pull off a Grand Slam title for the first time.

Manager Virginia Ruzici responded to a request for comment from Tennis.Life about adidas not renewing Halep’s deal.

She didn’t confirm it. Nor did she claim it inaccurate.

“No comment” Ruzici wrote via e-mail, adding she would be in touch when she had something to add.

Halep joined the adidas family in April, 2014, premiering the clothes at a Fed Cup tie between Romania and Serbia.

Until then, she had been sponsored by Lacoste. But she left them mid-season although reportedly on good terms.

Heightened expectations

Tennis.Life was told that the biggest issue was bad timing, and a gap in the evaluations from both sides of Halep’s worth.

The Romanian’s representatives (mentor Ion Tiriac is believed to be involved on that side) had a number in mind, commensurate with their player’s new status as the top-ranked player in the world.

The adidas offer didn’t reflect the same reality. Nothing original there; that’s basically every negotiation, ever.

But when they came back without having found much greener grass elsewhere, the German company already had allocated its 2018 sponsorship budget. 

Halep is still training in adidas gear, although nothing she didn’t already have. Whether or not that’s significant will be revealed soon enough.

Where this leaves her for 2018 is unclear.

We’ll have to see what Halep shows up in when she arrives in Shenzhen in two weeks, to begin her campaign – or perhaps even in Thailand, where she’s scheduled for an exhibition Dec. 23-24. Halep has entered the doubles in Shenzhen with countrywoman Irina-Camelia Begu.

Who knows? The two sides might be able to work out some sort of last-minute, bonus-based deal for the season. All options are on the table at this point. The challenge, at this late stage, is that every other company has already spent its 2018 budget, too.

Halep’s wardrobe changes

However it turns out, it won’t be the first kit change for Halep during her career.

Here are a few different looks she’s had since 2010.

At Indian Wells in 2014, Halep was still wearing Lacoste. A month later, she debuted her her adidas garb during a Fed Cup tie. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
At the Australian Open in 2010, Halep wore Fila. By Paris in the spring, she’d made a change. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
At the 2010 French Open, Halep sported Lotto. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)
At the US Open in 2011, Halep wore adidas for the first time. She returned to them midway through 2014. But Tennis.Life has learned that won’t be the case going forward. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Pharrell and Muguruza’s USO dress

Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza gave singer Pharrell a shoutout as she unveiled her adidas US Open dress Monday.

And it is dynamite – a big step up from most of her outfits this year, which have been rather unremarkable and not especially flattering.

It’s been underreported on the tennis side, but Pharrell has been designing for adidas originals. And this collection rocks. 

The visor and wristbands, in particular, are two steps up.

Berdych is wearing Djokovic’s shoes!!!!

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.

Berdych wore Djoko shoes in Indian Wells and Miami, too. They didn’t have a Djoko-face. But they did sport the Djoko-logo.

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.

Djoko shoes, as worn by the real Djoko.

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.