Sunday 17 December 2017

Romania captain Ilie Nastase's behaviour is creating an unwelcome distraction from Britain's Fed Cup match

By Max McLean

Nastase has recently attracted controversy with a comment about Serena Williams’ pregnancy as well.

Johanna Konta managed to win her Fed Cup play-off tie against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-3, but not after the behaviour of former Grand Slam champion Ilie Nastase threw the match into disarray.

With Konta leading 6-2 1-2 in the second rubber in Constanta, Nastase became embroiled in a row apparently about noise from the crowd.

The 70-year-old former world number one was reportedly heard to say to the umpire: “What’s your f***ing problem?”. He then appeared to call Great Britain captain Anne Keothavong and Konta “f***ing bitches”.

Nastase was sent off the court by tie referee Andreas Egli and, after taking a seat in the stands, was then escorted back to the locker room – Simona Halep, who had beaten Heather Watson in the opening rubber, explained to the crowd what had happened and appealed for calm before play briefly resumed.

But Konta was visibly upset and, after playing the next game in tears and dropping serve to go 1-3 behind, the players left the court.

Having been escorted from the court, Nastase was then filmed asking Press Association reporter Eleanor Crooks: “Why are you filming me?” Crooks responded: “Because it’s my job,” before Nastase added, “You don’t have a job, you’re stupid.”

Earlier Nastase had launched into an astonishing rant at Crooks, calling her “stupid” for reporting his apparently racist comment about Serena Williams’ pregnancy.

Romania’s captain was unhappy after his comments were reported about Williams’ baby, which is due in the autumn. “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?,” he was heard to say on Friday.

On Saturday morning before play started, Nastase stormed into the press centre at the Tenis Club IDU to seek out the British media, with Crooks the only member of the British media present at that moment.

“Why did you write that?” He said to Crooks. “You’re stupid, you’re stupid.”

Since the conclusion of the second rubber, the ITF released this statement, confirming Nastase will play no further part in the tie.

The match between Romania and Britain is currently level at 1-1 after Konta’s victory, but has taken on a sour taste after Nastase’s behaviour.

Press Association

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