It has been pointed out that Rafael Nadal's limited English in turn limits his ability to attract endorsements. If this be the case (which I doubt very much), there is still hope.
For a "how-to" on how to attract endorsements, turn to Novak "the Djoker" Djokovic. It is not love that is the universal language, but in this traditionally proper and aristocratic sport, humor slices its way through cultural boundaries and makes the Djoker priceless.
Go on YouTube and type in Novak Djokovic, and countless videos show the Djoker doing what he does best, i.e., entertainment, both on and off the court, and with his own particular brand of humor.
From his locker room antics to that now famous U.S Open impersonations show of beloved colleagues, the Djoker is a breath of freshly needed ha ha into a sport where the top two ambassadors (no names required) have carved their own brand of humbleness, modesty, and sophistication.
The Djoker offers escape into a world of humor, an absolutely priceless trait, and an absolute marketer's dream.
Here is my prediction: the Djoker will be the most bankable tennis athlete by the end of 2010. After the disaster that was the 2008 U.S. Open, the Djoker has done a great job of incrementally regaining public favor, and more importantly, stimulating discussion.
First, the fact that his family has now bought the Serbia Open can only be a positive thing, showing the Djoker's commitment to the sport he loves. Second, the Head commercial that he features in is hopefully one of many more commercials to follow.
This commercial hilariously leverages the Djoker's brand of humor. Other companies would be wise to recognize that a funny athlete is a rare diamond that should be polished and shown to the world.
Of course, the Djoker cannot just rely on his humor brand to win endorsements. Tournament results will also have a large effect. However, the Djoker is currently on an upswing, reaching the Monte Carlo 2009 final.
While performance can turn faster than Djokovic can let out a Sharapova grunt, his young age, his awesome power, and his never say die attitude are all positive indications of future results.
The Djoker Magic Formula:
Results + Humor = a unique tennis brand that marketers cannot ignore.