Wilson and Head are to rackets what Adidas and Nike are to basketball shoes, being the leading brands used by most of the major players in the world.
Second-tier racket and apparel company Yonex lacks a name-brand player such as Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, having only a single player in the top 25 using its product (third-ranked Stan Wawrinka). The company, however, is looking to change that and grab one of the brightest young stars in the game in 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios.
The Japanese-based company is offering to make the Australian teenager its highest-paid athlete, potentially giving him a contract worth five times what he’s making now, placing him among the stars of the sports in terms of endorsement dollars.
This might seem like a brash attempt by a lesser brand to land a big star, but it actually is a safe and understandable play. Lost in the recent World Cup mania that has swept the nation was Kyrgios’s monumental Wimbledon upset over top-ranked Nadal on Tuesday. Kyrgios became the youngest player to defeat Nadal, in addition to becoming the first teenager to beat a top-ranked player since Nadal himself did it in 2005.
Kyrgios is young and charismatic enough to become one of the brighter stars of tennis, and sponsors are beginning to notice. On the heels of the Yonex offer, Nike is looking to ink the budding star to a more lucrative deal.
“People are knocking on the door, and commercially this Wimbledon has been great for Nick. Yonex have offered five times what the current deal is, and in those terms, it has gone through the roof. The same with Nike.” Kyrgios’s manager John Morris said. “There are other companies looking to come to the table.”