Swiss still cashes out

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Rafa Nadal has toppled Roger Federer from the summit of the tennis world rankings but overtaking his arch rival as the sport’s number one in off-court earnings is likely to prove a much stiffer challenge.
Nadal, 24, joined the 29-year-old Federer and five other players on an elite list when he swept to victory at last month’s U.S. Open and completed a career grand slam of all four major tournaments.
The Spaniard, who now has nine grand slam singles titles, has shrugged off the niggling injuries that had plagued him over the past couple of seasons and his career is very much on the up, while the Swiss, who has a record 16 major singles titles, is closer to the end of his.
However, Federer’s annual earnings of $35 million from sponsorship and appearance fees are still more than double those of Nadal, who makes around $15 million, according to an estimate by Forbes Magazine.
Both players had lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike, with Federer’s worth around $10 million a year and Nadal’s $7 million, Kurt Badenhausen, a senior Forbes editor who compiles annual rankings of athletes’ earnings, told Reuters.
Federer, who is sixth on the latest Forbes list of the world’s best-paid athletes, has sponsors including Credit Suisse, Gillette, Mercedes Benz and Rolex. Nadal, who does not make the top 50, has deals with Kia Motors and Spanish financial firms Banesto and Mapfre, among others.
Like Federer, Mallorca-born Nadal has many of the attributes that corporate sponsors look for in an athlete, according to Antonio Martin, director of the Masters programme in sports management at the IE Business School in Madrid.
These included sporting success, an attractive character and physique, hunger to keep winning, a desire to improve and continue learning, humility, respect for opponents and accessibility to fans, Martin told Reuters.
In addition, Martin said, Nadal had a highly competent team of advisers at IMG, who also manage Federer and Russian Maria Sharapova, the top earner in women’s tennis who recently signed a new deal with Nike that could be worth as much as $70 million.
Nadal’s chances of overtaking Federer in off-court earnings would depend on how long he was able to maintain his current level of form, Martin added.