Tennis ace Rafa Nadal‘s association with PokerStars has come to an end. After signing with the online poker site in 2012, Nadal appeared in a number of ads for the company and even made some appearances on the felt during his tenure.
But following an initial flurry of enthusiasm and activity, Nadal’s participation in PokerStars’ PR events began to fade in recent months.
Although still an active member of the team at the start of 2015, his profile was quickly overshadowed this year after the online operator enlisted the services of global soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr.
Despite boasting as much of a media profile as the soccer players, Nadal apparently no longer cuts the mustard for PokerStars, which appears to be intent on pushing a new sporting angle.
News of Nadal’s departure hasn’t been made public by PokerStars or the man himself as of yet. But Google Nadal on the Team PokerStars Sport pages, and you’ll find nary a mention of him anymore where the tennis pro’s profile used to reside.
Apparently Nadal’s contract, which was initially set to last for two years, wasn’t being renewed. Although unconfirmed, TennisWorldUSA.org has suggested that Nadal was paid €12 million ($13.6 million) to represent PokerStars for two years.
During his time as a PokerStars pro, Nadal was coached by fellow Spaniard Alfonso Cardalda (a professional player in his own right) and enjoyed a surprising amount of success.
During a €100,000 ($113,000) EPT charity event in Prague, he managed to outlast the likes of Daniel Negreanu, as well as fellow sports stars Ronaldo, Andriy Shevchenko, and Fatima Moreira de Melo, to win €50,000 ($56,000) for charity.
Beyond that win, Nadal had a chance to show his skills against Vanessa Selbst. During a special heads-up match designed to raise funds for Care International, the tennis player put up a brave defense against the always aggressive Selbst.
Unfortunately, success wasn’t in the cards for Nadal this time, as he lost relatively quickly to the superstar poker pro. The match in April 2014 was one of the last major appearances Nadal made for PokerStars, but it doesn’t appear he’ll be mourning the loss of his poker sponsor.
Although PokerStars is looking to harness the power of soccer through Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. now, Nadal is already on to new ventures with fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger.
In a recent series of tweets, the tennis star continued to promote his current sponsor Nike, as well as his new range of underwear produced in collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger.
As for PokerStars, its recent success with Neymar Jr. in Barcelona (the EPT festival broke numerous records) should be all the confirmation it needs to continue pushing its hot young soccer stars.