DAVID NALBANDIAN was one of the best tennis players in the world and reached the Wimbledon final.
But now he has swapped rallying on the lawns of the All England Club for the tracks of rally racing in a dangerous career change.
David Nalbandian reached a career-high world No3 in the tennis rankings
He is now competing in the Argentine Rally Championship
Nalbandian has been involved in several scary crashes
And he even cheated death with a spectacular crash while competing in his native Argentina in 2021.
Nalbandian and his co-pilot managed to walk away unhurt despite rolling the car FIVE times in a terrifying moment – his third major crash since taking the wheel.
It is a far cry from his 13 years as a tennis professional on the ATP Tour.
The 41-year-old from Unquillo was a successful junior star, beating Roger Federer in the US Open boys’ singles final, and made the step up to the seniors in 2000.
And just two years later, he competed in his only Grand Slam final at Wimbledon where he lost comprehensively to top seed Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 6-3 6-2.
Nalbandian went on to reach a further four major semi-finals, won 11 career titles including the 2005 year-end ATP Finals and made a career-high world No3.
However, many tennis fans will remember a famous incident at Queen’s which saw him disqualified in dramatic circumstances.
The Argentine ace – who went to Qatar to watch his nation win the World Cup – reached the 2012 final and took the opening set against Marin Cilic.
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But after being broken to trail 3-4 in the second, he kicked out at a wooden panel in front of a line judge’s chair, inadvertently crashing it into their shin and cutting it open to draw blood.
The outburst cost him £36,114 in lost prize money plus a maximum £8,000 fine and he was docked 150 in ranking points.
Overall, though, Nalbandian enjoyed a fine tennis career and hung up his racket in 2013 following shoulder surgery before making the switch to the Argentine Rally Championship to complete a lifelong dream.
He 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.
“Rally is something I always wanted to do, and now I have the time to do it.
“I enjoy the traditional rally the most, over rallycross, those are completely different.
“Tennis and rally racing are two very different specialities, almost impossible to compare. The adrenaline in the car is even difficult to explain.”
Nalbandian was thrashed 6-1 6-3 6-2 in the 2002 Wimbledon final by Lleyton Hewitt
He was disqualified from the Queen’s final in 2012 after kicking out and injuring a line judge
The Argentine retired from tennis in 2013 and also trimmed his hair
Nalbandian is keeping active in his retirement