Nastase casts shadow over Halep’s victory
Simona Halep retained her Madrid Open title but her successful defence with a three sets victory over Kristina Mladenovic, was marred by the appearance of Ilie Nastase on court during the presentation.
The only shadow cast on the day was Mr Nastase's invitation to participate in today's award ceremony. He had no place on court today
The Romanian former star is currently serving a provisional suspension by the ITF issued by the sportÈs governing body following his abusive language during his nationÈs Fed Cup tie against Britain.
The 71-year-old lothario, a former French and US Open champion, was alleged to have made a racist remark with regard to Serena WilliamÈs unborn baby, asked on several occasions for Anne KeothavongÈs hotel room number, and then hurled foul-mouthed verbal abusie at her and Jo Konta during the actual tie. He also insulted the Press AssociationÈs tennis correspondent.
Both the French Open and Wimbledon have taken action against him while the WTA have revoked his credential privileges while the ITF investigated the actions.
Consequently to find him joining in the limelight at the Madrid Open was indeed a surprise though in hindsight, not such a big one as the owner of the tournament is his best friend and former doubles partner Ion Tiriac!
Nevertheless, having cocked a snoop at the authorities, the chief executive of the WTA Steve Simon, responded by publicly declaring in a statement that he was not welcome.
“It was an exciting final match and I heartily congratulate Simona and Kristina for their outstanding display of tennis.
“The only shadow cast on the day was Mr Nastase’s invitation to participate in today’s award ceremony. He had no place on court today.
“He is currently under a provisional suspension by the ITF for his prior offensive actions and we revoked his credential privileges at WTA events while the investigation is being completed.
“It was both irresponsible and unacceptable of the Madrid Open to bestow him an official role.
“The Madrid tournament is a premier-level event and held to the highest standards of professional tennis and leadership which were not reflected today.”
In the final, which lasted nearly three hours before Halep secured her 7-5 6-7(5) 6-2 victory, the Romanian showed a lot of grit and determination despite being frustrated by her French adversary who was playing one of the best matches of her career.
Mladenovic served for the first set at 5-4 but Halep responded, reeling off three games in a row to just squeeze through a very tight opener.
In the second it was Mladenovic who just managed to edge through to level the final on the tie-break following a code violation for Halep in the 12th game for racket abuse when she kicked her racket in the direction of a ball boy.
In the decider it was Mladenovic who ran out of steam allowing Halep to pull ahead to claim the 15th title of her career and her third in Madrid in four years.