Paris Masters champion David Nalbandian retired at 31 and now cheats death
David Nalbandian once reached a Wimbledon final and won the Paris Masters during his tennis career but now has a very different profession. The 41-year-old, who climbed as high as third in the ATP singles rankings, scooped 11 titles during his 13-year tennis career spanning from 2000 to 2013.
Nalbandian even defeated Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on his way to winning the Paris Masters in 2007, which came five years after he lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the Wimbledon singles final. He hung up his racket a decade ago and has since forged a new career for himself after venturing into the world of motor racing in his native Argentina.
The Unquillo native is a rally driver in the Argentine Rally Championship and has survived a number of scary crashes since taking up the sport in 2014. He cheated death two years ago when he walked away from a huge accident, which saw his car roll over five times before finally coming to a halt.
Nalbandian was also involved in two other high-speed crashes, with the first one in 2015 leaving his car written off in a crumpled heap. The second crash happened a year later in San Justo during the Copa Maxi Rally, which is part of the national rally calendar.
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He even took part in a single World Rally Championship race behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Agile in the fourth round of the 2015 season. Another crash forced him to retire from the event, although he and his co-pilot managed to walk away unhurt.
Speaking in 2016 about his decision to get into rallying after retiring from tennis, Nalbaldian said: “Tennis was my job and racing is a hobby. It’s very different. I don’t have pressure here. I am learning and trying to do my best but not as a professional.”
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Nalbandian turned professional aged 18 and is the only Argentinian tennis player in history to ever reach the semi-finals or better at all four Grand Slam tournaments. Many tennis fans will remember him for an unsavoury incident at Queen’s Club back in 2012, when he kicked an advertising board which struck a line judge on the shin.
The line judge was left bloodied and required hospital treatment, while the Metropolitan Police even investigated whether the incident could be classed as assault following a complaint to the force. Nalbandian was eventually fined £8,000 and docked 150 ranking points by the ATP due to his unsportsmanlike conduct.
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