Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
Japanese, 27, Tennis
Japan’s global superstar and face of the Olympics in waiting
Representatives: WME | IMG
Key partners: Uniqlo, Jaguar, Adidas, Wilson, Tag Heuer
2016 ranking: 6
Kei Nishikori does not own a home in his native Japan, and claims he cannot spend more than three weeks there due to the intense media pressure. In the Japanese press, he is known as ‘Nishikori/Nissin’ due to a unique naming rights partnership with a noodle brand. Overseas, Nishikori is a well-regarded and occasionally spectacular tennis player. At home, he is an icon.
In the increasingly homogenised world of men’s tennis, Nishikori stands out. By far the most successful Japanese tennis player of all time, he commands endorsements with ease in his native country. On the court, he continues to bang on the door but has not yet managed to find a way in. A first Grand Slam continues to elude him, but patience may prove a virtue.
“I think [Kei] still has so much potential. I think he can reach the top. But it's a really tough thing to do. I think he still has two or three more years to try and reach it.” Dante Bottini, Nishikori’s coach
At 27, he still just about has time on his side, though he will be determined to make his potential pay before the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, for which he will almost certainly be one of the global standard bearers; a factor which will help keep his marketability high, offering worldwide visibility to brands. But he will hope that those Games are the valedictory homecoming of a player at his peak, and not one last shot at major glory. AN