Dimitrov departs Team8 for TLA
Grigor Dimitrov, ranked No. 5 on the ATP Tour, signed with TLA Worldwide last week, the first significant men’s player the agency has landed since it entered the tennis business in 2017.
The move comes as another top player, fourth-ranked Marin Cilic, is expected to jump to CAA Sports, sources said.
While the two moves are not connected, it is notable that they are both switching to larger agencies, as the recent trend in tennis has been for players to join boutiques or start their own agency outright.
In fact, until the end of last year Dimitrov was represented by Team8, the agency started by Roger Federer and his agent, Tony Godsick. Dimitrov became unhappy there, multiple sources said, because the focus largely revolved around the legendary Federer. Godsick did not return requests for comment.
The current top three ATP players — No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 2 Federer and No. 3 Alexander Zverev — are each represented by boutiques (Nadal, like Federer, has his own firm, and Zverev is repped by ACE Group International). The idea behind going with a smaller firm is that the players get more attention. However, that can come at the cost of the sales and marketing resources of a larger firm.
For TLA, the signing adds to a tennis client group that includes the Bryan brothers and Sloane Stephens, last year’s U.S. Open winner.
In fact, it was the endorsements TLA secured for Stephens months after she won the Open that impressed Dimitrov, said Chris McCormack, a TLA vice president of sports marketing.
“We have a big sales team to push him out,” McCormack said.
McCormack worked with Dimitrov at Team8 until May 2017, and his departure suggested the 27-year-old Bulgarian would move on when his contract expired. TLA hired McCormack two weeks ago as part of the planned
Dimitrov, who has won eight ATP titles and $15 million in prize money, wears Nike, a contract that expires later this year. He also has deals with Wilson, Rolex and Häagen-Dazs, among others. He would like car and financial services deals, McCormack said.
Cilic, 29, won the 2014 U.S. Open and has been managed his whole career by Vincent Stavaux. CAA is well known for repping players from team sports, so Cilic would represent a big signing. CAA did not reply for comment.