Ilie Năstase

Ilie Năstase

Infobox Tennis player
playername = Ilie Năstase

country = flag|Romania
residence = -
datebirth = birth date and age|mf=yes|1946|7|19
placebirth = Bucharest, Romania
height = height|m=1.82
weight = convert|75|kg|lb st|abbr=on
turnedpro = 1969 (debut in 1966)
retired = 1985
plays = Right; One-handed backhand
careerprizemoney = US$2,076,761
singlesrecord = 748–283
singlestitles = 88 including 57 listed by the ATP Website
highestsinglesranking = 1 (August 23, 1973)
AustralianOpenresult = -
FrenchOpenresult = W (1973)
Wimbledonresult = F (1972, 1976)
USOpenresult = W (1972)
Othertournaments = Yes
MastersCupresult = W (1971, 1972, 1973, 1975)
doublesrecord = 480–207
doublestitles = 45
highestdoublesranking = 59 (January 3, 1983)
updated = April 7, 2007

Ilie Năstase (born July 19, 1946, in Bucharest, Romania) is a former Romanian professional tennis player and one of the top players of the 1970s. Năstase was the World No. 1 in 1973 according to the Association of Tennis Professionals computer rankings, which placed him first from August 23, 1973, to June 2, 1974.


At the beginning of his career in 1966 Năstase travelled around the world competing with his good friend Ion Ţiriac. Together, they reached the Davis Cup challenge round in 1969 and 1971. In 1972, they reached the Davis Cup final, the challenge round having been abolished. However, they never won the trophy for Romania.

In singles, Năstase won his first minor tournament at Cannes on April 16, 1967. His first final at an important tournament was in 1969 in Stockholm, where he defeated Tony Roche and Smith.

Năstase became one of the best players in 1970, with many experts ranking him as the sixth best player in the world after the Australians Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, and Roche and the American Ashe. Năstase'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, Năstase won the men's doubles title at the French Open.

In 1971, Năstase was the runner-up at a depleted French Open with 16 of the 32 World Championship Tennis (WCT) players absent. Năstase lost in four sets to Jan Kodes. In December, Năstase won the Grand Prix Masters, again without the WCT players.

The two following years saw Năstase's apogee.

In 1972, he became the second ranked player in the world (see World number one male tennis player rankings), owing to his winning the U.S. Open in a five set final over Ashe. This tournament was the only event of the year in which all the best players participated. Two months before in a depleted Wimbledon, Năstase lost to Smith in five sets. In the Davis Cup, in which WCT players were still not allowed to participate, Năstase was undefeated in singles until losing to Smith in the final tie. In December, Năstase won his first match of the year with Smith and his second consecutive Grand Prix Masters title. (The WCT players were again absent from the tournament.) Smith defeated Năstase four of the five times they played that year.

In 1973, Wimbledon and the Australian Open again had very depleted fields. Roughly 80 players boycotted Wimbledon because of a controversy involving Nikki Pilic. Only 4 of the 20 best players in the world entered (Năstase, Kodes, Roger Taylor and Connors). As usual from 1972 through 1982, very few of the best players visited the Australian continent. Among the top 20 players, only Rosewall and Newcombe participated. Five events stood out that year: (1) the U.S. Open with only Roy Emerson missing; (2) the French Open (among the best claycourt players, only Rosewall, Laver, and Emerson were absent); (3) the Grand Prix Masters, this time accessible to all players; (4) the WCT finals, reserved for WCT players (not including Nastase, Newcombe, Connors, and Manuel Orantes); and (5) the Davis Cup, open to everyone for the first time in its history. By winning 17 tournaments in 1973 (the French Open, the Masters, the other 12 listed on the ATP website plus Washington D.C., Istanbul, and Kingston), Năstase was the undisputed World No. 1 that year. In the Davis Cup, he won 7 of 8 singles rubbers, including a victory over Tom Okker, the "Flying Dutchman." In matches against the other top players, Năstase was 1–0 against Newcombe and 1–1 against Smith. The Romanian won the French Open without dropping a set (a feat repeated by Bjorn Borg in 1978 and 1980 and by Rafael Nadal in 2008), and he won the French Open (clay), Rome (clay) and Queen's Club (grass) in succession, a feat never repeated in the open era -- though Borg won Rome, the French Open, and Wimbledon in succession in 1978, and Nadal won the French Open, Queen's Club, and Wimbledon in succession in 2008.

In terms of public popularity, Năstase was then at the peak of his career, famous both for his technical and physical genius and for his good humour on court. But among referees and other players, his reputation for gamesmanship resulted in the nickname "Nasty" after several incidents where his temperament got the better of him. For one year, other players scorned him in locker rooms and did not speak to him.

Năstase's play began to decline in 1974 even though he was the only player to qualify for both the WCT Finals and the Grand Prix Masters. (Newcombe played both events, although he played the Masters at Kooyong as an invitee instead of a qualifier.) As usual, Năstase played well in the Masters, in particular against Newcombe in the semifinals. (Năstase 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, Năstase reached the Masters final in 1975 (an event Connors did not enter even though he qualified for the second consecutive year), where he played perhaps the best match of his career to defeat Borg 6–2, 6–2, 6–1.

During the first half of 1976, Năstase won four tournaments (Atlanta WCT, Avis Challenge Cup WCT, U.S. Open Indoor, and La Costa), and head-to-head, he led Connors 2–1, Vilas 1–0, Ashe 1–0, and Borg 1–0. Năstase did not enter the Australian Open, which was again avoided by most of the top players. Năstase was prevented from entering the French Open because he participated in World Team Tennis. In the second half of the year, Nastase lost to Borg in the men's singles final of Wimbledon and in the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Năstase won three other tournaments during the second half of the year, the Pepsi Grand Slam, South Orange, and the 4-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. Năstase was generally considered to be the World No. 3 for the year, behind Connors and Borg.

In 1977, most tennis specialists considered Năstase to have finished the year just out of the top 10, although he finished ninth in the ATP rankings. He was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and the French Open and participated in the WCT Finals.

Năstase was still one of the 20 best players in 1978. At Wimbledon, he again reached the quarterfinals, losing to Okker after defeating Roscoe Tanner.

During the remainder of his career, Năstase steadily declined and only occasionally defeated a good player, such as Johan Kriek in the third round of the 1982 U.S. Open.

Năstase retired from the tour in October 1985 at the age of 39 after playing in the tournament in Toulouse, although he did play the challenger tournament at Dijon in June 1988.

Playing style

Năstase was able to play every tennis shot except that his volley was comparatively weak. When Năstase was playing well, his speed around the court and superb anticipation compensated for his lack of an excellent volley. He was one of the only players to have an effective offensive and defensive lob off both his forehand and backhand. His major weakness was a periodic loss of concentration, especially during high pressure matches such as: (1) the 1972 Davis Cup final singles match against Stan Smith; and (2) the 1976 Wimbledon final.


*He has 88 singles titles, only 57 of which are recorded at the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) website.
*He won the U.S. Open in 1972 (defeating Arthur Ashe in a five set final) and the French Open in 1973.
*He was the singles runner-up at Wimbledon in 1972, losing in five sets to Stan Smith, and in 1976, losing to Björn Borg.
*In men's doubles, he won Wimbledon in 1973 (with Jimmy Connors), the French Open in 1970 (with Ion Ţiriac), and the U.S. Open in 1975 (with Connors).
*Năstase won the Masters tournament four times, in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1975. Only Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl won more titles there.
*Năstase was the first professional sports figure to sign an endorsement contract with Nike in 1972.
*Năstase and Connors were good friends, often playing doubles together. They refused to join the Association of Tennis Professionals, preferring to play in a parallel tour organized by their long-time manager Bill Riordan.
*In 2005, TENNIS Magazine put Năstase in 28th place in its list of 40 Greatest Players of the TENNIS era.
*Năstase wrote a couple of novels in French in the 1980s and entered politics in the 1990s, making an unsuccessful run for mayor of Bucharest in 1996.


*"If you have confidence, you have patience. Confidence, that is everything."
*"As long as I can get angry, then I play well. If I play well, I can beat everybody. I am happy because I am getting angry."
*"My ambition is to do a good job. I never plan anything."
*"I haven't reported my missing credit card to the police because whoever stole it is spending less than my wife."In his recent book, Nastase claimed that he slept with around 2,500 women. After hearing this, his wife said that she was happy to have conquered such a man.

Career statistics

Grand Slam finals


Wins (2)

Runner-ups (2)

Masters finals


Wins (4)

Other titles (28)

Here are Năstase's tournament wins that are not included in the statistics on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) website. The website is very incomplete from 1968 to 1970 and has some omissions for tournaments held since 1968.

Năstase won several tournaments during the early years of his career that were equivalent to the present day "challenger" tournaments. Because the term "challenger" started to be applied to second-rank tournaments in 1978, those tournaments are termed "minor tournaments" in the following list.

* 1967 - Cannes (minor tournament), Travemunde (minor tournament)
* 1968 - Viareggio, Bucharest (minor tournament)
* 1969 - Madras (minor tournament), New Delhi (minor tournament), Gauhati (minor tournament), Travemunde, La Corogne, Budapest, Denver "
* 1970 - Napoli, Ancona
* 1971 - Omaha, Istanbul
* 1973 - Istanbul, Kingston
* 1974 - Portland, World Invitational Tennis Classic (WITC) at Hilton Head (four-man invitational tournament, not to be confused with the CBS Classic tournament also played at Hilton Head)
* 1975 - WITC at Hilton Head (four-man invitational tournament), Helsinki, Dutch Round Robin (Utrecht Netherlands), Graz, Uppsala
* 1976 - Caracas (a four-man invitation tournament in October, not to be confused with the Caracas WCT in March that was won by Raúl Ramírez), Argentine Round Robin (invitational tournament)
* 1977 - Rotterdam World Star (invitational tournament)
* 1978 - Frankfurt (invitational tournament)

ingles runner-ups (36)

Sources for this section

* Michel Sutter, "Vainqueurs Winners 1946-2003", Paris, 2003. Sutter has attempted to list all tournaments meeting his criteria for selection beginning with 1946 and ending in the fall of 1991. For each tournament, he has indicated the city, the date of the final, the winner, the runner-up, and the score of the final. A tournament is included in his list if: (1) the draw for the tournament included at least eight players (with a few exceptions, such as the Pepsi Grand Slam tournaments in the second half of the 1970s); and (2) the level of the tournaments was at least equal to the present day challenger tournaments. Sutter's book is probably the most exhaustive source of tennis tournament information since World War II, even though some professional tournaments held before the start of the open era are missing. Later, Sutter issued a second edition of his book, with only the players, their wins, and years from 1946 to April 27, 2003, period.

* John Barrett, editor, "World of Tennis Yearbooks", London, from 1976 to 1983.

* Joe McCauley in "Mr Nastase: The Autobiography", by Ilie Nastase with Debbie Beckerman, 2004.

* "1982 WCT Yearbook"

*"ATP Official Guide to Professional Tennis" 2004 (page G18).

Doubles titles (45)

Personal life

Maxim magazine has placed Năstase at number 6 on its top ten "Living Sex Legends" list, as he is reputed to have slept with over 2500 women. [ [,0,5057260.story Sheen Only No. 2 on 'Living Sex Legends' List] ]

ee also

*Tennis male players statistics

Further reading

*cite book |author= |title=Mr Nastase: The Autobiography |publisher=HarperCollins UK |location= |year=2005 |pages= |isbn=0-00-717839-5 |oclc= |doi=
*cite book |author=Evans, Richard I. |title=Nastase |publisher=A. Ellis |location=Henley-on-Thames |year=1978 |pages= |isbn=0-85628-058-5 |oclc= |doi=

External links

* [ International Tennis Hall of Fame profile]


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