Ilie N%C4%83stase
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Ilie N%C4%83stase

Ilie N?stase
Ilie N?stase 2009 US Open 02.jpg
Ilie N?stase at the 2009 US Open
Country (sports) Romania
Born (1946-07-19) 19 July 1946 (age 75)
Bucharest, Kingdom of Romania
Height1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Turned pro1969 (amateur tour from 1966)
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize money$2,076,761
Int. Tennis HoF1991 (member page)
Career record1144-490 (70.0%) in pre Open-Era & Open Era[1]
Career titles64 (9th in the Open Era)
Highest rankingNo. 1 (23 August 1973)[2]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open1R (1981)
French OpenW (1973)
WimbledonF (1972, 1976)
US OpenW (1972)
Other tournaments
Tour FinalsW (1971, 1972, 1973, 1975)
WCT FinalsQF (1974, 1977, 1978)
Career record479-208
Career titles45 (ATP listed)
Highest rankingNo. 10 (30 August 1977)[2]
Grand Slam Doubles results
French OpenW (1970)
WimbledonW (1973)
US OpenW (1975)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
WimbledonW (1970, 1972)
US OpenF (1972)
Team competitions
Davis CupF (1969Ch, 1971Ch, 1972)

Ilie Theodoriu N?stase (Romanian pronunciation: [i'li.e n?s'tase] , born 19 July 1946)[3] is a Romanian former world No. 1 tennis player. He was ranked world No. 1 in singles from 23 August 1973 to 2 June 1974, and was the first man to hold the top position on the computerized ATP Rankings. N?stase is one of the 10 players in history who have won over 100 total ATP titles, with 64 in singles and 45 in doubles.[2]

N?stase won seven major titles: two in singles, three in men's doubles and two in mixed doubles. He also won four Masters Grand Prix year-end championship titles and seven Grand Prix Super Series titles (1970-73), the precursors to the current Masters 1000. He was the first professional sports figure to sign an endorsement contract with Nike, doing so in 1972.[4] N?stase wrote several novels in French in the 1980s, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991.[5][6]


N?stase playing a Davis Cup match against the Netherlands in The Hague (1973)
N?stase on a 2004 Romanian stamp

At the beginning of his career in 1966, N?stase traveled around the world competing with Ion ?iriac. They represented Romania in the Davis Cup competition, being runners up in 1969, 1971, and 1972.

In singles, N?stase won his first tournament at Cannes on 16 April 1967. His first victories against top players happened in 1969 in Stockholm, where he defeated Tony Roche and Stan Smith.

N?stase became one of the best players in 1970, with many[who?] experts ranking him as the sixth-best player in the world at that time, behind the Australians Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, and Tony Roche and the American Arthur Ashe. N?stase's high ranking resulted from his success at the Italian Open in Rome and at the U.S. Indoor Open in Salisbury, Maryland. With Tiriac, N?stase won the men's doubles title at the French Open.

In 1971, N?stase was the runner-up at the French Open, where he lost the final in four sets to Jan Kode?. In December, N?stase won his first Masters Grand Prix title, finishing in front of Stan Smith in a round robin competition.

In 1972, he became the No. 2 in the world, owing to his winning the US Open in a five-set final over Arthur Ashe. This tournament was the only event of the year in which all the best players participated. Two months before, at Wimbledon, N?stase narrowly lost to Stan Smith in an epic[7] five-set final, one of the more exciting championship matches.[8] In the Davis Cup, N?stase was undefeated in singles until losing to Stan Smith in the final played on clay in his native Bucharest. In December at the year-end tour finals, N?stase defeated Smith, winning his second consecutive Masters Grand Prix title.

In 1973, N?stase won 17 tournaments, including the French Open, a doubles title at Wimbledon, and a third Masters title. He was the undisputed world No. 1 that year. In the Davis Cup, he won seven of eight singles rubbers. In matches against the other top players, N?stase was 1-0 against Newcombe and 1-1 against Smith. The Romanian won the French Open without dropping a set (a feat repeated by Björn Borg in 1978 and 1980 and by Rafael Nadal in 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020), and he won the French Open (clay), Rome (clay) and Queen's Club (grass) in succession. N?stase was seeded No. 2 for Wimbledon 1973, behind the defending champion Stan Smith. When the newly formed ATP withdrew its players from the tournament following the suspension by the ITF of Yugoslav Nikola Pili?, only three ATP players (N?stase, Roger Taylor and Ray Keldie) defied the boycott and were fined by the ATP's disciplinary committee. Nastase was promoted to No. 1 seed for the players in the subsequently weakened field and publicly stated his support for the ATP action but insisted that as a serving captain, he was under orders from the Romanian army and government to compete and thus could not boycott the tournament. Some contemporary press speculation and later biographies have suggested N?stase contrived to lose his fourth-round match to American Sandy Mayer, but to have lost any earlier to a considerably less able player would have been too obvious.[9][10] N?stase never has commented publicly on this speculation.

In 1974, he was the only player to qualify for both the WCT Finals and the Masters Grand Prix finals. N?stase played well in the Masters, in particular against Newcombe in the semifinals. (N?stase finished his career with a 4-1 record versus Newcombe, losing only their first match in 1969.) The Romanian, however, lost the final to Guillermo Vilas in five sets.

For the fifth consecutive year, N?stase reached the Masters Grand Prix final in 1975, where he defeated Björn Borg in three straight sets.

During the first half of 1976, N?stase won four tournaments (Atlanta WCT, Avis Challenge Cup WCT, US Open Indoor, and La Costa), and head-to-head, he led Connors 2-1, Vilas 1-0, Ashe 1-0, and Borg 2-0. N?stase did not enter the Australian Open, which was again avoided by most of the top players. N?stase was prevented from entering the French Open because he participated in World Team Tennis. In the second half of the year, third-seeded Nastase lost in straight sets to Borg in the men's singles final of Wimbledon and in the semifinals of the US Open. N?stase won three other tournaments during the second half of the year, the Pepsi Grand Slam, South Orange, and the four-man tournament of Caracas, Venezuela, in October (not to be confused with the Caracas WCT tournament in March), making seven tournament championships for the year. N?stase was the world No. 3, behind Connors and Borg.

In 1977, N?stase finished No. 9 in the ATP rankings. He was a quarterfinalist at the French Open and at Wimbledon (losing to Borg), and participated in the WCT Finals. During his quarterfinal match at Wimbledon N?stase had a row with umpire Jeremy Shales.[11] Shales called him "N?stase" when asking him to move to the advantage court, "like a master speaks to a naughty schoolboy."[12] (N?stase has also said Shales asked him to pick up a piece of paper that had blown onto the court, saying, "N?stase, pick up that paper."[13]) N?stase angrily replied "You call me Mr. N?stase!". Since this incident, umpires have always used a courtesy title when addressing the players directly. Mr. Nastase later became the title of his autobiography.

He was still one of the 20 best players in 1978. At Wimbledon, he again reached the quarterfinals.

N?stase retired from the tour in October 1985 at the age of 39 after playing in the Grand Prix de Tennis de Toulouse, but he did play the challenger tournament at Dijon in June 1988.


In October 1977 at the Raquette d'Or tournament, N?stase used a 'spaghetti string' (double-strung) racket to end Guillermo Vilas's 46-match winning streak. The racket was known for creating large amounts of top spin and unpredictable bounces. Vilas quit the match in protest of the racket.[14] A few days later, the ATP banned the use of such racquets.[15]

During the US Open in 1979, N?stase was defaulted from his match against John McEnroe. The umpire previously docked N?stase a point in third set and then a game in the fourth for arguing and stalling. A near-riot followed as the crowd disagreed with the umpire's decision, throwing beer cans and cups on court. The match was restarted, with the umpire being replaced, before McEnroe won.[16][17][18][19]

In 1994 N?stase, Davis Cup captain of his country, was banned for an away match against Great Britain, for "'audible obscenities and constant abuse and intimidation of officials'" in a tie against South Africa.[20]

In 2017, while captaining his country's Fed Cup team against Great Britain, N?stase was overheard commenting about Serena Williams' unborn child, and the 71-year-old asked Britain's Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong for her room number while posing for photographers.[21] N?stase previously made unfounded comments about Williams allegedly doping. Before Great Britain and Romania began their two-day World Group play-off,[22] N?stase allegedly stormed in to the media centre to confront British journalists over the reporting of his comments the previous day. N?stase could only find Press Association tennis correspondent Eleanor Crook before launching into a tirade about the reporting.[23]

During the second rubber, after the crowd had been told to respect the players, he said to match umpire Andreas Egli: "It's not the opera, what's your f****** problem?"[24] He was ultimately ejected from the stadium for unsportsmanlike conduct.[25] In a statement the International Tennis Federation (ITF) additionally confirmed that N?stase had his accreditation removed and would take no further part in the tie.[26] The next day, the ITF provisionally suspended N?stase under the Fed Cup Regulations for a breach of the Fed Cup Welfare Policy, meaning that he was banned from the site of any ITF event.[27] When N?stase was ejected from the stadium he met Crook again and, separated by a large number of security guards, verbally attacked her.[28] The next day, despite being banned from the venue, N?stase reappeared and went to have lunch in the onsite restaurant. He additionally sent flowers to the British team.[29] On 21 July 2017, he was suspended by the ITF until 2021.

Williams released a statement on social media branding the comments about her unborn child as racist, noting that it saddened her that we live in a society where these comments can be made.[30] N?stase then apologised on social media regarding the comments he made about Williams, but made comments about Konta speaking to the umpire which upset him.[31] In a further interview with the BBC, N?stase justified his comments to Konta, stating that he only abused her after being ejected from the court and did so as a fan rather than a captain. N?stase also said that he regretted his behaviour in the incident.[32] Nastase was not invited to the French Open and Wimbledon following his suspension.[33] The Madrid Open, however, invited Nastase to be part of the prizegiving ceremony, which was won by Simona Halep (another Romanian player). This was a move that was deemed irresponsible by the WTA, which had revoked Nastase's privileges while the ITF carried out its investigation.[34][35]

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour included Pam Shriver claiming N?stase frequently asked in a joking manner if she was still a virgin. After about 30 occasions of this happening, Shriver asked him to stop asking that, which he did.[36] Dominique Monami, captain of the Belgium team, then mentioned that N?stase had abused her in the round before the match with Great Britain.[37] Monami later added that N?stase was abusive for two games during the match between Elise Mertens and Irina-Camelia Begu.[38]

Playing style

N?stase in 1973

Considered one of the more gifted tennis players in history,[39] N?stase was noted for his ability to entertain, amusing spectators with his antics and mimicry. Even during a crucial phase of a match, he was likely to do something bizarre that would entertain the crowd.[7]

One of the faster players, he is remembered for his magnificent lobs and retrieves. N?stase could apply a discomfiting spin to his shots, being an expert at putting the ball just beyond an opponent's reach. His greatest weakness was a fragile nervous system and erratic temperament.

N?stase pioneered a distinctive tennis shot, a backward, over-the-shoulder wrist-flick useful as a last resort in recovering lobs. Tennis writer Bud Collins dubbed the shot the "Bucharest Backfire" after N?stase.[40]

According to The Independent, N?stase is best remembered for being one of the better players never to win the singles title at Wimbledon, for his tantrums, and his good looks.[41]

Athletic distinctions

  • N?stase has the all-time highest winning percentage (88%, 22 wins and only 3 losses) in the year ending tournaments (today ATP World Tour Finals) winning four times, in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975.
  • He is one of the five tennis players (third place) in the world who won more than 100 pro titles (57 singles and 45 doubles) according to the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) website,[2] though there are many titles that are not included in the ATP statistics. (see Career statistics section).
  • N?stase was the first professional sports figure to sign an endorsement contract with Nike.

Awards and accolades

  • N?stase was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991.
  • In March 2009, N?stase was made a knight of the France's Legion d'honneur, being acclaimed for his "impressive sporting career" and "the sense of spectacle" he created when playing.[42]
  • On 19 July 2016, his 70th birthday, N?stase received the Star of Romania, his country's highest civil award, for services to sport.[43]


N?stase has published two novels and at least one autobiography.

  • Tie-Break (Tie-break, 1985), also published as Break Point
  • The Net (Le filet, 1986)
  • Mr Nastase: The Autobiography (Mr N?stase: Autobiografia, 2004)

Political career

He holds the rank of major general in the Romanian military. He entered politics in the 1990s, making an unsuccessful run for mayor of Bucharest in 1996.[44] Elected to the Romanian Senate for a Bucharest seat in 2012, he initially sat for the Conservative Party, switching to the National Union for the Progress of Romania in July 2015 after the former party ceased to exist.[45]

Personal life

N?stase has been married five times: his first wife was Dominique Grazia, a Belgian fashion model, whom he wed at the age of 26 and to whom he was married for 10 years, and with whom he has a daughter, Nathalie. His second wife was American actress Alexandra King, whom he married in 1984, and with whom he adopted two children, Nicholas and Charlotte. His third wife was Romanian fashion model Amalia Teodosescu, whom he married in 2004. They have two children, Alessia and Emma Alexandra. After they split in 2010, he married Romanian fashion model Brigitte Sf?t in 2013;[46][47] their marriage ended in 2018.[48] In 2019, he married Ioana Simion.[49]

Maxim has placed N?stase at number 6 on its "Living Sex Legends" list, as he is reputed to have slept with over 2,500 women.[50] N?stase's own estimate of 800 to 900 was too low for the writer of his biography who wanted a larger number to improve his reputation.[51] After hearing this, his third wife, Amalia, said that she was happy to have conquered such a man. N?stase met Amalia at a Sting concert and married her in a Greek Orthodox ceremony on 5 June 2004, followed by a civil ceremony in July of the same year. They divorced in February 2010, after six years of marriage.[52]

As he played for the Army's sports club Steaua, he was an employee of the Ministry of Defence.[].

On 25 May 2018, N?stase was arrested twice within a six-hour span for drunk-driving and riding a scooter through a red light.[53]

He also was involved in a animation project, and provides the Romanian voice of the federal agent in the Disney movie "G-Force".

Career statistics

Singles performance timeline

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)

Qualifying matches and walkovers are neither official match wins nor losses.

Tournament 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 SR W-L Win %
Australian Open A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A 1R A A A A 0 / 1 0-1 0.00
French Open A A 2R 1R QF F 1R W QF 3R A QF A 1R A 3R 2R 3R 1R A 1 / 14 33-13 71.74
Wimbledon A A A 3R 4R 2R F 4R 4R 2R F QF QF A 3R 1R 1R A A A 0 / 13 35-13 72.92
US Open A A A 4R A 3R W 2R 3R QF SF 2R A 2R 2R 1R 4R 1R 1R 1R 1 / 15 29-14 67.44
Win-Loss 0-0 0-0 1-1 5-3 7-2 9-3 13-2 11-2 9-3 7-3 10-2 9-3 4-1 1-2 3-2 2-4 4-3 2-2 0-2 0-1 2 / 42 97-41 70.29
The Masters W W W F W 4 / 5 22-3 88.00
Davis Cup P P P F P F F SF QF P P QF P QF 1R 2R 1R 0 / 17 74-22 77.08
Tournaments 0 0 2 11 11 19 32 29 27 25 23 20 22 21 19 26 24 11 12 4 338
Titles / Finals 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-2 2-3 7-11 12-16 15-18 6-11 5-9 6-13 3-5 2-5 0-1 0-0 0-2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 *59 / 96 *59-37 61.46
Overall Win-Loss 0-2 2-2 9-2 24-13 40-13 76-12 120-20 114-17 77-21 91-21 76-13 48-19 48-21 30-23 22-25 22-26 15-25 8-13 4-14 1-4 827/1133 **827-306 72.99
Year-end ranking - - - - - - - 1 10 7 3 9 16 49 79 79 79 118 202 431 $2,076,761
  • * including 57 pre-ATP and ATP titles
  • ** including 749 - 287 (overall - 1036) listed by the ATP


  • These records were attained in the Open Era of tennis.
Championship Years Record accomplished Player tied
Masters Grand Prix/ATP Finals 1971-1975 88.00% (22-3) match winning percentage[54] Stands alone
Grand Prix Tour 1968-1985 42 five set match wins Stands alone
WCT Challenge Cup 1976-1978 3 singles titles Stands alone
Omaha Open 1972-1973 2 singles titles Stands alone

See also


  1. ^ "Ilie Nastase: Career match record". Tennismem SL. Retrieved 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "ATP Legends profiles - Ilie Nastase".
  3. ^ "Famous birthdays for July 19: Brian May, Anthony Edwardsl". United Press International. 19 July 2019. Archived from the original on 19 July 2019. Retrieved 2019. Tennis Hall of Fame member Ilie Nastase in 1946 (age 73)
  4. ^ Carbasho, Tracy (2010). Nike (Corporations That Changed the World). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-59884-342-2.
  5. ^ Jim Sarni (24 August 1986). "Nastase Aces Novel Of Tennis Break Point". SunSentinel.
  6. ^ Robert Sullivan (9 November 1987). was inducted into the %5b%5bInternational Tennis Hall of Fame%5d%5d in 1991.:// "A Tennis Tale With Faults" Check |archive-url= value (help). Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Octagon > Athletes & Personalities > Ilie Nastase". 19 July 1946. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  8. ^ "Ilie Nastase "Bucharest Bufoon"". Archived from the original on 22 December 2007. Retrieved 2006.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link).
  9. ^ Evans, Richard. 'Ilie Nastase' May 1978 Aidan Ellis Publishing. ISBN 978-0856280580
  10. ^ Robertson, Max. 'Wimbledon: Centre Court of the Game' May 1984 Parkwest Publications. ISBN 978-0881864502
  11. ^ "Obituary: Jeremy Shales". The Guardian. 26 September 2005. Retrieved 2016.
  12. ^ "Wimbledon 2015: The top 10 tantrums in SW19 - including Nick Kyrgios". The Telegraph. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 2016.
  13. ^ Robertson, Peter (5 July 2014). "Whatever happened to... tennis superstar Ilie Nastase?". Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ Michael Steinberger (23 August 2012). "Queens was burning, too". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Difeliciantonio, Justin (5 February 2013). "Question of the day: revisiting the spaghetti question".
  16. ^ "Down Memory Lane: The day John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase caused a racket at US Open". Belfast Telegraph.
  17. ^ Lorge, Barry (31 August 1979). "McEnroe Triumphs After Near-Riot" – via
  18. ^ Dwork, David. "Top 5 Ridiculous U.S. Open Moments".
  19. ^ "Hodgkinson: The US Open's quirkiest moments".
  20. ^ "Tennis: Cup ban for Nastase". 31 May 1994.
  21. ^ "Ilie Nastase banned for Serena Williams 'chocolate' baby comment". Sky News.
  22. ^ "Serena Williams: Ilie Nastase heard making derogatory comment". 21 April 2017 – via
  23. ^ "Ilie Nastase brands female British journalist 'stupid' after reporting his racist comment about Serena's baby".
  24. ^ "Tennis match suspended with Konta left in tears as Nastase is removed from court". The Independent. 22 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Tennis match suspended with Konta left in tears as Nastase is removed from court". 22 April 2017.
  26. ^ "Fed Cup - ITF statement regarding Ilie Nastase".
  27. ^ "Fed Cup - ITF issues Nastase provisional suspension".
  28. ^ "I was grateful for security men - PA reporter Crooks on Nastase fury - Sports Journalists' Association".
  29. ^ "Ilie Nastase strolls through the front door to defy International Tennis Federation".
  30. ^ "Serena Williams brands Ilie Nastase comments 'racist'".
  31. ^ "Ilie Nastase apologises for Fed Cup behaviour but can't resist dig at Johanna Konta".
  32. ^ "Ilie Nastase: Romania's Fed Cup captain to quit game if punished by ITF". 28 April 2017 – via
  33. ^ "French Open officials follow Wimbledon's lead and ban Ilie Nastase". The Independent. 6 May 2017.
  34. ^ "Ilie Nastase 'cast a shadow' on Madrid Open trophy presentation, women's tennis boss Steve Simon says". ABC Online. 14 May 2017.
  35. ^ "Simona Halep wins in Madrid, but Ilie Nastase steals the show". The New York Times. 13 May 2017.
  36. ^ Pilditch, David (23 April 2017). "Pam Shriver reveals how Ilie Nastase asked her if she was virgin 30 TIMES".
  37. ^ "Exclusive: Ilie Nastase accused of earlier case of sexism by Belgian Fed Cup captain Dominique Monami".
  38. ^ "Ilie Nastase's previous Fed Cup misconduct laid bare by Belgian captain - 'he called me a big bitch'".
  39. ^ Rao, Madhusudan G. "10 Most Captivating Tennis Showmen on Court". Bleacher Report.
  40. ^ Siegel, Alan (8 September 2010). "Roger Federer and the History of Tennis Trick Shots". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2015.
  41. ^ "Nastase embodies an era with a touch of class". The Independent. London. 28 June 2003. Retrieved 2010.
  42. ^ "France honours beloved Nastase". Archived from the original on 24 July 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  43. ^ "For his 70th, Ilie Nastase awarded by Romania president". Miami Herald. 19 July 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  44. ^ Perlez, Jane (11 March 1996). "Ilie Nastase, Bad Boy of Tennis, Runs Hard to Take Over Bucharest CityHall". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021.
  46. ^ "LE-A IUBIT ?I LE-A FERICIT! ELE AU FOST MIRESELE LUI ILIE N?STASE!" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2014.
  47. ^ "Ilie N?stase ?i Brigitte Sf?t s-au casatorit. ?iriac: Spune ce vrei, dar s? nu m? chemi la divor?, pentru c? nu vin !" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2014.
  48. ^ "Victorie important? pentru Brigitte, la divor?ul de Ilie N?stase. Ce a scris în acte fostul juc?tor de tenis" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2020.
  49. ^ "Ilie N?stase pl?nuie?te c?s?toria religioas? cu Ioana Simion. "Vreau s? fac nunta cât mai repede, s? sc?p?m de acest virus"" (in Romanian). Retrieved 2020.
  50. ^ "Sheen Only No. 2 on 'Living Sex Legends' List". 30 May 2006. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  51. ^ "Michael Palin meets Ilie Nastase " o'connors o'pinions". Retrieved 2010.
  52. ^ Alastair McKay (1 February 2006) Ilie Nastase, the Romanian George Best, based on an Interview with Ilie N?stase during the 2004 promotional tour for his autobiography.
  53. ^ "Ilie Nastase arrested twice in a day, accused of drunken driving". USA Today. Retrieved 2018.
  54. ^ "Tournament History". Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Retrieved 2012.

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
World No. 1
23 August 1973 - 2 June 1974
Succeeded by
John Newcombe

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