Thanks to DtL! reader Lori for tipping me off to this exciting development between Novak Djokovic and his clothing sponsor adidas. As many of you know, I've been hyper-critical of the global sports brand for its lackadaisical sponsorship/PR for top ballers and poor design vision especially the eye-sore affectionately known as Ana's "ladyfinger" dress. But the drama continues...
Apparently, Nole had been working Nike Cages (below) with the logos whited out during his short stay at The All England Club. The Serb complained to the company after he continually slipped in his Barricades during the Queen's Club final, but adidas couldn't make grass-court shoes in time so they agreed to allow him to wear the Nike sneakers for Wimbledon. WTF?!
Darren Rovell of CNBC.com picked up on the developing story and questioned the decision by both parties. adidas responded to his inquiries saying,
Adidas is committed to providing the best possible sportswear products to inspire and enable all athletes to achieve their Impossible. However, in the tradition of our founder Adi Dassler, we do not oblige athletes to wear a product in competition they do not feel are 100 percent suitable to their style of play. Therefore we have reviewed the request of Novak Djokovic to use another brand of shoes at Wimbledon and have agreed he can wear a product he feels is more suited to his current grass court needs.Nole also released a statement about the controversy saying,
Over the past 5 years adidas’ commitment to my career has been unbeatable. Adidas Tennis has actively sought my feedback on new products and technologies and I am excited to work on a new products for the 2009 season. In the meantime, I am grateful for adidas’ unrelenting support as I aim to achieve my Impossible at Wimbledon this week.This well-crafted PR piece seems pretty empty to me.
And to rub salt in the wound, Andy Murray, who usually wears Brit label Fred Perry paired with adidas trainers, confirmed that he switched to Nike as seen below during his first round match:
Great for Nike but where does this leave adidas in tennis? Clearly Nole hasn't switched over to Nike completely but it could be just a matter of time. If the brand can't move quickly to accommodate the product needs of their premiere athletes at the highest-profile tournaments, who would blame them for jumping ship? And, why would the sports label spend all this money to sponsor an athlete and then instead of providing them the proper products in a timely manner, concede to allowing them to wear a competing brand??
Clearly, adidas was caught with their Court Shorts down and not prepared with appropriate product or to deal with this type of issue. What was I saying about lack of vision?
Impossible seems like something for adidas right now.
(images via Getty, tenniswarehouse.com)