cowlneck and stripes?

If looks could kill: Check out these pics Marat Safin shot by Erez Sabag for the May 2011 issue of Russian InStyle. When not left to his own devices, the man cleans up. (I’ve already forgiven him for all the contrast collars he picked up in bulk this past winter.) Cowlneck and stripes? The man — or at least his stylist — knows the way to my heart.

Wise words: The Q&A accompanying the spread has Safin recounting his early tennis life (living in Spain, being an indentured junior, being ignored by the ladies), offering his thoughts relationships (alas, for a tennis pro, the ladies have to play second fiddle), and explaining his preference in clothes (he likes it simple). It’s actually a good read; translation at MTF.

Gawk: Rest of the pics below. Enjoy!

(src; InStyle photos by Erez Sabag; red carpet image by Fotonoticias/Getty Images)

sunday survey (and a story)

The first professional tennis tournament I ever went to – or professional sporting event of any kind – was the 2002 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University in Palo Alto. My dad and I drove from my Grandma’s house in nearby San Jose for an evening session featuring Lindsay Davenport and Anna Kournikova, and my giddy 16-year-old self mistook all the well dressed 20-something guys in the crowd to be Bay Area gays. It wasn’t until later on in life that I realized they were all just metro straight guys there to watch Kournikova. A boy can dream.

The following night, I ventured to Stanford on my own, scoring a second-row ticket for the evening session that featured Monica Seles and Kim Clijsters on two separate courts. But before I went into the stadium, I took to the grounds, milling about and taking in the sights and the sounds of the tour that I had long dreamed of in my back alley as a kid.

While walking along the corridor of sponsor booths, I felt someone’s hand press against my side gently, and as I turned to see who it was, a large man pushed his way past be. I turned back around to try to understand why he had put his hand on my side, and realized he was escorting a well-known tennis gal through the crowd: Kournikova.

In the time that I realized what had happened, the moment was gone, and Kournikova – cap pulled tightly over her face – made her way through the crowd with little notice, thanks to the shadow the large bodyguard was casting over her.

My run-in with Marat Safin this week reminded me of my first tennis bump-in eight years ago. It also got me wondering: Which tennis player would you like to bump into in a casual setting the most? The least? Let us know in the comments section.

spotted in soho: marat, the retired

Looking like he was having a tough day of shopping, I bumped into Marat Safin in Soho this afternoon. Safin was joined by a blonde (Russian?!) shopping partner, but he was the one playing the mule, carrying a Ted Baker of London shopping bag and another from Uniqlo.

Safin was casual in jeans and adidas sneaks (of course). Though, I was a little surprised (or was I?!) to see him smoking a cig on their stroll.

(tsf photo)

safin re-living youth in rio

Marat Safin, who bowed out of the ATP tour three months ago (losing his last singles match in Bercy), is set to make his debut next month on the senior Champions Series circuit — in Rio De Janeiro of all places. The playboy will join Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Mark Philippoussis, Cedric Pioline, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors, and Fernando Meligeni in a single-elimination event with a $60k top prize.

Ahh, to be young again! “It is going to be a lot of fun to play in Brazil for the first time at the Rio Champions Cup and join some of the great legends in tennis,” said Safin, who turned 30 on January 27. “It will be an interesting change to be one of the young guys on the tour again and I look forward to playing in front of the Brazilian tennis fans.” For someone who’s thrown around his wisdom in the last few years, we wonder how he’ll fit in with the old folk.

(image via Getty Images)

if marat safin and fabio fognini made babies…

…this is what they’d spawn. (La Monf or Grigor Dimitrov could be in the picture, too, with equal results!) Nick Lindahl, an Australian up-and-comer, has snagged a wildcard spot at this year’s Australian Open with a hard-earned win — 6-7 (6), 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-3 — over Bernard Tomic.

More: A few more pics after the cut