Novak Djokovic, Asics Reveal Court FF3 Novak Tennis Sneaker

Novak Djokovic says he loved his Asics Court FF2 Novak on-court tennis sneaker so much that when Asics approached him about an update he initially wasn’t interested. But now he’s glad he spent over two years working with Asics on the Jan. 1, 2023, release of the Court FF3 Novak.

“At the beginning, I said I don’t want to change,” Djokovic says. “When I switched from my last sponsor to Asics shoes, I felt really like I was going to a sportscar from a commercial car. I felt lighter on my feet, I felt there was more flexibility. I could change direction quicker, and I could slide. Why change when you feel good?”

Why change? “Let’s try to make an even better shoe,” Djokovic says about deciding to embark on the Court FF3 Novak journey.

Djokovic worked with Asics on every detail of a shoe that Gary Raucher, Asics executive vice president, calls the best of both worlds from the brand’s focus on both baseliner and all-court players, combining the best technologies from the brand’s pinnacle stability shoe, the Gel-Resolution line, and the brand’s speed shoe, the Solution Speed.

The Court FF3 Novak started with meetings in 2020 and the first prototype, a blacked-out version, appeared in January 2021. Djokovic even wore the shoe during practices at the Australian Open that year. Then came additional rounds of prototypes and testing in March 2022 and April 2022 before a final prototype just last month in November.

“I’ve really enjoyed the process,” Djokovic says. “Sometimes not, most of the time, yes. Good things take time. I am really proud of the whole process.”

Djokovic says that first black protype added a sock like interior for comfort, but the changes to the midfoot were too stable. The team worked with Djokovic to dial in the “best balance between flexibility and stability,” says Rene Zandbergen, senior manager innovation.

“I don’t know if I can choose between stability and flexibility,” Djokovic says about the most important component of the new Court FF3 Novak. “You need to combine the lightness and comfort with functionality. For us, we change directions a lot and the first step is so crucial. We need a good shoe to absorb the shock of stopping and help us launch and change direction to the first step back to the middle of the court.”

The Court FF3 Novak outsole splits into two separate rear pieces and a third in the forefoot. The technology works together to give the shoe stability, but the ability for independent movement of the three allows for greater flexibility when needed. The new design improves shock absorption by nearly 7%, Asics says.

“Every tennis player has specific elements, things they want to emphasize in their footwear,” Djokovic says. For the Court FF3 Novak, the Asics Twistruss technology in the midfoot helps connect the outsole pieces to allow for stability on impact and during the Serbian’s famous sliding. But the technology enables “me to bounce off and have a recovery step quicker.”

With the outsole dialed in, later prototypes focused on the front of the foot, tuning the sizing and design to ensure that when Djokovic split steps onto his toes, he’s ready for a quick push off, ideally reducing the time it takes him to move on the court.

The updated interior sock like fit was dialed down to create more breathability—he didn’t want to over sweat and have to change his socks mid-match, “which doesn’t look great on the TV”—which then required a tweaking of the upper’s design to create a fit that doesn’t necessitate tight lacing. “Those last few touches had to be done,” he says, “because if you are trying to make the perfect shoe, why not cover every single detail?”

The Court FF3 will initially launch in two versions, the mainline Court FF3 and the Court FF3 Novak, which includes tweaks specific to Djokovic. Raucher says Asics didn’t make the Court FF3 line fully a signature model for Djokovic to ensure the brand has a shoe that benefits as many people as possible. That way, consumers can choose between the FF3 and the FF3 Novak. With so many brands creating custom shoes not available at retail for top athletes, he says the Court FF3 Novak available in the store is the same version that he’s wearing on the court. The Novak model also features the athlete’s logo on the heel, additional design elements specific to him and colorways unique to Djokovic.

Djokovic wasn’t sure about embarking on another Court FF remake, but he said the process was worth the effort. In the end, he has a shoe he loves more than the last. “Very fine,” he says about the final iteration. “Approved.”