SBJ/September 12-18, 2011/Events and Attractions

After talk of Djokovic switching brands, Sergio Tacchini reveals his deal lasts 15 years

Rumors swirled last week that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic would be making an apparel and sneaker change, but Edoardo Artaldi said his company, Sergio Tacchini, has Djokovic under contract for 15 years.

If his playing career ends before the deal is up, Djokovic will continue to represent the brand with an ambassador status.

“He’s 100 percent with Tacchini,” said Artaldi, who manages contracts for the Italian brand. It is the first time Tacchini has come public with the duration of the contract since signing Djokovic in late 2009. Since then, Djokovic has become the best player in the world, and as of last week he had lost only twice this year.

Artaldi also dispelled talk that Djokovic had not been paid by his company, which is owned by Chinese investors.
Tacchini was a popular tennis brand in the 1980s and is in the midst of a comeback attempt. Djokovic previously had been with Adidas.

While Djokovic wears Adidas sneakers — Tacchini currently does not make tennis footwear — Adidas is prohibited from using Djokovic’s image, Artaldi said. He added that many sneaker brands have inquired about Djokovic’s availability, including Chinese and Japanese brands.

Djokovic is represented by CAA Sports. Earlier this year, the two CAA agents responsible for the Serbian player were removed from working with him, and no one since has been specifically assigned him, Artaldi said. Tennis at CAA is now under Steve Heumann, Artaldi said, and the plan is to have a new team for Djokovic by the end of the year. Goran Djokovic, Novak’s uncle who handles his nephew’s business affairs, did not respond for comment.

WHAT THEY’RE WEARING: Speaking of apparel brands, Agnieszka Radwanska, the world’s No. 13-ranked player, signed a deal here with Lotto. The deal pays about $200,000 annually. In addition, Lacoste has launched an Andy Roddick brand, the first time the American has had his own line. The shirts, shorts and jackets feature an “Andy” signature beside a white stitched figure of him serving, located on the lower right-hand side of the apparel. And look for American John Isner to score a nice payday not long from now, with his apparel deal with Nike coming up soon.

TERRY RATZLAFF
Thousands of fans had their serves analyzed, thanks to American Express.
ACTIVE EXPERIENCE:
American Express had its most ambitious on-site experiential effort at the U.S. Open this year. The company hired GolfTec to modify its golf swing technology, which analyzes a duffer’s swing, to tennis. GolfTec worked with tennis coach Craig Kardon to develop the motion sensory devices, which were used for the first time at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Thousands of fans had their serves analyzed. Card members could get a 10-minute serve lesson on-site, while non-card members could serve and have the hits analyzed at other locations and then tips emailed to them.

AmEx also unveiled its Court Curator, which allowed fans to customize their trips to the Open. Fans could choose from advice like following top pros or newcomers, or even choosing Chris Evert’s daily advice of what to see. The Curator was featured at eight locations around the grounds of the tennis center. AmEx advertised the new offering on the U.S. Open’s mobile app as well as on the boardwalk that leads to the tennis center from the subway.

DANIEL KAPLAN / STAFF
SHARAPOVA SWEETS:
Maria Sharapova is planning to launch a brand of candies called Sugarpova. Confectioner Jeff Rubin, known for such brands as FAO Schweetz and Dylan’s Candy Bar, is licensing the name. Sharapova’s agent, Max Eisenbud, during the Open was carrying around prototypes of the containers — which look like tennis ball canisters — filled with sugary delights.

NEW SPOTLIGHT ON ASIA?: Lagardère Unlimited signed Asia Muhammed, 20, to a representation deal. Muhammed several years ago was pegged as an up-and-comer and was well known for first starting to play at the Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club funded by Andre Agassi. She has somewhat fallen off the radar and is now ranked 407th.

Lagardère’s Ken Meyerson pointed out that her brother, Shabazz, is a top-ranked high school basketball player, but he said the signing was about Asia’s tennis potential.

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