Who are the biggest earners in the world in the men’s tennis arena? Two of the names are probably ones that you would expect. They are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The identity of the third-highest earner may surprise you. No, it is not Rafael Nadal – it is Kei Nishikori.
The ATP World Rankings list Djokovic in the number one slot, Nadal in second, and Federer in third. At the point of this article being published, the Serbian has a commanding lead with 12,415 points. The gap to second-placed Nadal is significant at 4,470 points. But Federer is in third slot is only 485 points below the Spaniard.
Nadal slips out of the Forbes list Top 3 earners
In terms of earnings, however, Nadal slips out of the top three. At this year’s Wimbledon, Nadal made it through to the semi-finals where he was knocked out by Roger Federer. The Spaniard had previously lifted the Grand Slam title at Roland Garros just a couple of weeks earlier. It was the twelfth time he had won the French Open.
He has only ever previously lost to two players in this tournament – Swedish player Robin Bo Carl Söderling in 2009, and Novak Djokovic in 2015.
The ATP rankings currently show Japanese player Kei Nishikori as being ranked in seventh position with 4,040 points. It just goes to show that a top ATP ranking doesn’t necessarily equate to top earnings, especially when you start taking advertising and endorsements into consideration.
Forbes list Federer as top men’s tennis earner
According to Forbes, whose published findings on the world’s highest-paid athletes 2019 see footballers Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar as first, second and third respectively. Roger Federer is listed as the highest-paid men’s tennis player in 5th place.
Federer’s earnings for the last year total a staggering $93.4 million. If you look at prize money and salary only from the game of tennis, the figure drops to a measly $7.4 million.
But the Swiss is one of world sports’ biggest brands, and the money he raked in from endorsements etc. was a ginormous $86 million. He even outstripped the combined advertising earnings of footballers Messi and Ronaldo who netted $35 and $44 million respectively.
Second and third top earners in men’s tennis
When you look at Novak Djokovic’s earnings, they differ from Federer’s in as much as his direct earnings from tennis tournament prize money are a lot higher. These earnings last year alone totaled $20.6 million. The revenue from his endorsements, however, were substantially lower than his Swiss rival’s, at only $30 million. Still, a combined figure of $50.6 million is still very acceptable.
If we now look at Kei Nishikori, third in the tennis earnings list, his direct tennis income was only $4.3 million – lower then both Federer and Djokovic – but his endorsements were worth $33 million, miles below Federer but slightly higher than the Serb.
Endorsement earnings count for more than tournament earnings
While Nishikori is only 7th in the ATP rankings, his income from advertising etc. is right up there. This is because he has been ranked 4th best in the world – the highest world ranking ever for any Japanese male tennis star.
It has made him incredibly popular in his homeland, and it has enabled him to make some great brand deals. These include Nike sneakers, a Jaguar car, and a Japanese Airlines’ jet being named after him. He also secured deals with Asahi, NTT, and Nixil, plus Proctor and Gamble.
Out of interest, the highest-earning female tennis player in Forbes list was Serena Williams with a total income of $29.2 million. Forbes also showed Serena as being the 65th highest-earning sports star last year.