In the sport of tennis, rank doesn’t always equal wealth.
Rafael Nadal, the Spanish tennis player currently ranked No. 1 in the world, has advanced to the semifinals of the US Open Tennis Championships this week in New York City. He’ll play No. 28 Juan Martín Del Potro Friday night for a spot in the finals on Sunday.
Nadal holds 73 overall titles — including 14 Grand Slams, which award the most prize money. The 31-year-old has been playing professionally since 2001 and is a two-time winner of the US Open.
Though Nadal’s dominance in the sport is indisputable, his total career earnings — about $US86.3 million — are not a reflection of his current top-player status, at least when compared to his rivals.
The Association of Professional Tennis (ATP) is responsible for ranking players, measuring their performance in the Grand Slam, Masters, and a handful of other tournaments throughout the year. A player’s placement in those tournaments adds up to ultimately determine their numbered world ranking.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, who’s ranked No. 5, is currently the highest-paid tennis player in the world, with a total of $US109.8 million in career earnings. Roger Federer, the Swiss man who sits at No. 3, has won $US107.7 million in prize money.
Tournament purses are consistently increasing, and more wins in recent years for Djokovic, who’s been playing professionally since 2003, has likely added up to a higher total sum. In fact, the Serbian earned a record-breaking amount of prize money in one season in 2015 when he pocketed $US20 million, winning three of the four Grand Slams that year.
On-court payouts are just one factor contributing to the multi-million dollar net worths of the top tennis players. According to Forbes, Nadal has earned $US26 million from endorsements like Nike, Babolat, and Kia Motors, so far in 2017.
The deals are even more lucrative for Federer, who earns nearly $US60 million a year from partnerships with Wilson, Credit Suisse, and Nike, and luxury brands Mercedes, Rolex, Lindt, and Moet & Chandon. He also commands fees up to $US2 million for exhibitions and events.
Djokovic isn’t far behind. The Serbian has earned $US37.6 million off-court this year, endorsing brands like Seiko watches and Adidas. Earlier in 2017, he traded in his signature Uniqlo apparel for a new deal with Lacoste.
Nadal could win as much as $US3.7 million at this year’s US Open, if he takes the top spot. The United States Tennis Association is handing out a total of $US50.4 million — the largest purse in tennis history. Both the men’s and women’s championship title winners will earn $US3.7 million on Saturday, while the runner-up will walk away with $US1.825 million. Semifinalists pocket $US920,000.