nalbandian pushes rafa with five match points



Rafa Nadal had to work for his place in the quartefinals of the BNP Paribas Open. The top seed fended off the always dangerous David Nalbandian, who now has a 2-1 record against the Spaniard (with two wins in 2007 — Madrid and Paris).

Another kit: Nadal and Nike came up with another variation of his Bold Crew Men’s Tee, this time in white/neon turquoise/charcoal.

Scoreline: Nadal saved five match points (four on his own serve, one on Nalbandian’s) to take the second set to a tiebreaker. The third set did not start until 1:30 a.m. The final score: 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0. After this test, Rafa will face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters. Del Potro beat John Isner 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) in the battle of the beasts.

Buy: Nike Bold Crew Tee, $45; Re-Invent Shorts, $55.

(images via Getty Images)

tattoo watch: daniel koellerer



Austrian tennis player Daniel Koellerer upset top seed David Nalbandian 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the Acapulco tournament.

BTW, the Mexican version of ESPN The Magazine put Venus Williams on its February cover (in anticipation of the tournament, which she won). The mag also included an article on Nalbandian, plus a decent layman’s write-up about the event’s “ATP 500″ designation, and how that fits into the rest of the ATP scheme.

(photo by Getty Images)

tattoo watch: jarkko’s unveiling



jarko-nieminen-sydney09c

Jarkko Nieminen and his tattoo tease has a sequel, apparently. As the Finn collapsed on the court after his 6-3, 6-7 (9), 6-2 loss to David Nalbandian in the Sydney International final on Saturday, he let us in on another inking, this time on the underside of his right arm.

(photo by Getty Images)

only a frenchman…



Michael-Llodra-Sydney09

Just when you thought that Michael Llodra‘s all-grey Lacoste kit was a little too Dead Man Walking, he turns it into a Cabaret with one simple move.

(Not that we didn’t expect it; the Australian summer is his time of year to show some skin.)

Scoreline: Llodra lost to David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-3 in the second round of the Sydney International.

trophy watch: giant balls, david’s peak, jelena’s hat trick, and changing the russian guard



Another Philipp to watch: Sorry, Herr Kohlschreiber — you’ll have to save some space at the table for qualifier Philipp Petzschner, who nabbed his second career ATP title at the Bank Austria-TennisTrophy when he beat beat Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 after taking out Wawrinka, Moya, and Lopez in earlier rounds.

In Stockholm, David Nalbandian performed as expected, winning his second title of the year with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Robin Soderling. He’ll head into this week’s Mutua Madrilena Masters as the defending champion.

Marat Safin failed to convert his finals appearance in the 2008 Kremlin Cup into a title (this would have been his first since the ’05 Australian). Meanwhile, props to Igor Kunitsyn and his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-3 victory over his veteran countryman for his maiden title. He even prepared a speech that congratulated Marat!

Hot potato: The top players of the SEWTA continue to keep us fans on our toes, making sure that whoever holds the No. 1 ranking isn’t the last woman standing at a tournament. In this week’s episode of “The Consistency Caper”, second-ranked Jelena Jankovic downs Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4 for her fourth title of 2008. Meanwhile, top-ranked Serena is MIA. BTW, this is the third meeting in as many weeks between Jelena and Vera.

(Note: Apparently — see first comment below — this is no longer the case. TSF apologizes for the error. Congrats to victor Jelena, who now has all the spoils.)

It’s in the bag: The flip-flops of Roger Federer (first, he’s out “indefinintely”, next, he’s back on the schedule a week later…) played second fiddle to Rafa Nadal, who received a trophy from the ATP this week in recognition of his No.1 ranking. He’ll pretty much end the year in the top spot barring any missteps.