Nike Premiers Flamingo Pink for Men. 
Says It’s a Confident and Revival Color. 

By Jane Voigt

January 16, 2018 — Christopher Clarey of The New York Times wrote a wish list for 2018 tennis, one being that players sponsored by the same company wear different outfits, if they’re playing each other in a match. Seems plausible. Fans could then tell players apart. We can certainly sympathize with Mr. Clarey’s desire. Especially at this Australian Open. And especially with those colors that Nike smacked us upside the head with on day one: black and pink plus a pure flamingo, for the men. 

What were Nike designers thinking?

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Nike’s Zonal Cooling Challenger Tennis Top in Lava Flow and Black, plus Atmosphere Grey and Black. 

Last night, Juan Martin del Potro and Francis Tiafoe battled it out in their Nike gear. Del Potro wore the black matched with a slate gray Nike Court Zonal Cooling Challenger Tennis Top (pictured here). Tiafoe, though, wore the same Zonal shirt in the sick pink or, what Nike calls Lava Flow, and lots of it, plus black. You have to wonder if Tiafoe liked it. If he went to a store to select an outfit for Melbourne would he have picked that? 

Doubt it. 

But players signed by Nike don’t have much of a choice, unless you happen to be Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams, who have their own lines. The colors they wear, though, flow throughout the array of clothing and equipment offered each quarter, but in lesser quantities. 

Del Potro’s shoes weren't so bad in that pink and black, and the socks were kinda cool with that steak of pink up the back like a, well, skunk. But that block of ‘Lava Flow' in Tiafoe's Zonal Cooling Challenger Tennis Top screamed jittery. Denis Shapovalov, the mighty talented teen Canadian and Nike kid, wore the pink shorts with his pink and black Zonal shirt. We needed sunglasses.

Basically Nike ‘ranks’ its contracted players in tiers. Roger, Rafa, Serena and even Maria Sharapova, star in that stratosphere. They wear exclusive designs made from better, and thicker, material. Roger has touches of Flamingo and black in his Melbourne selection, like two bands across his shirt. But it’s done tastefully. Always haute couture for Federer. Nadal, the bull, is back to his sleeveless getup, guns ablazing. It’s fitting for his style of play. You know grunts, hitting every ball likes it’s the last one he’ll ever encounter. But, and again, he’s not donning the flamingo color but a real sweet pink. Maybe it’s an ironic take for the bull.  

Next down the tier ranking is Grigor Dimitrov, seeded a stately number three, who’s wearing the icky flamingo hues. And, there’s Del Potro, too, who today rose into the top ten with his win over Tiafoe. He was subdued in his Atmospheric Grey, but his day outfit could surprise. 

The next group belongs to Britain Kyle Edmund, who played a brilliant five-set match yesterday to take out the U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson (no. 11), and Jack Sock-level players. Edmund, like Canadian Shapavolov dared to be different and visually explosive when they picked pink shorts with the pink and black Zonal t-shirts. Talk about a target.

Fans have not gone quietly, either, about Nike's gear.  

Judy Murray, Andy's and Jamie’s mom, sparked a trend on Twitter when she wrote, “Kyle Edmund rocking the licorice allsort outfit.” (You know those horrible coconut candies that are chunks of white, black and pink.) Other comments on Twitter: #Nike should apologize … #Flamingo Pink? And, my goodness all the Nike kits I’m seeing at the @Australian Open are horrible. Folks out there looking like human starburst. And, saving the best for last, I just can’t even with what @Nike is making their players wear during the @AustralianOpen. They’ve outdone themselves with awful.

According to The New Daily from Melbourne, “The sportswear company has kitted out its big-name male representatives in head-to-toe pink it claims is an attempt to revive ‘confident’ 1990s style — and to intimidate.

“We worked closely with the colour team on finding the best shades for the most impactful read off the incredible blue courts,” Sam Shipley, Apparel Design Director for NikeCourt, said in a statement. Additionally, “The goal of the pink was to grab the focus of overseas viewers who might miss the main broadcast and are forced to catch up through bite-sized social media posts.”

Honestly, that doesn’t even make sense. Maybe an investigative journalist should slip into a NikeCourt design meeting and report on what those guys are smoking. Oh, forgot. They’re in Oregon, not California. Whatever!

Well, if Nike wanted something “that vibrated” they hit the ole proverbial nail on the head. It definitely does that, but to the extent that’s rather nauseating. 

Would Shapavolov, Edmund, Sock, Tiafoe, Dimitrov, Del Potro and Nick Kyrgios rather wear another brand than Nike? 

Doubt it.  

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013