Wonderful autobiography by this very great tennis player,
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This review is from: Mr Nastase: The Autobiography (Hardcover)
Nastase was one of the stars of tennis in the 60's and 70's and still plays today in doubles as a veteran, quite often with his long-time partner Jimmy Connors - together they had won some Grand Slam doubles tournaments including Wimbledon. Nastase was and still is a flamboyant character. On court he was temperamental and often lost his cool, sometimes leading to him being unkindly misjudged when he was actually, in my view for one, in the right.
Nastase describes very frankly his behaviour on court and his life generally since his early childhood when he was lucky to be able to play tennis because his father had a job at a tennis club, how he progressed through his own love of the game without any real coaching other than "leave him to it" by someone at the club. The comparison with players nowadays, all so intense and coached up and buffed up and frantic for ranking points is dramatic. He also writes of how difficult it was to live in a Communist country and how careful he had to be not to offend the authorities so that he could be allowed out of the Communist Bloc to play tennis elsewhere.
For me who watched Nastase often at Wimbledon, there aren't many later players who can compare with him for pure flair and a joyous love of just playing the game other than the great Roger Federer (whom Nastase mentions as being a player he greatly admires). Federer was also somewhat temperamental on court in his early days but unlike Nastase, Federer decided to stop being temperamental and be fully focused instead.
Nastase won many matches, some tournaments and two grand slams - Roland Garros and the US Open (though never, sadly, Wimbledon, though coming very close). In those days, Nastase said, as a player brought up on clay courts he saw Roland Garros as the ultimate prize, not Wimbledon which is usually seen as the ultimate prize today.
If he were in the current generation of players he'd still I think be just as temperamental, but he'd certainly have won more Grand Slams because he'd have had more impetus to do so.
Like Federer with Nadal, Nastase was up against other great players and successes had to be shared out. In a different era and with more ruthless resolve Nastase could have dominated, but he didn't really have the temperament to want to be all-powerful. He wanted to have a good time!!! When the ranking system first came in, Nastase was ranked No.1 for a while, and would have been ranked No.1 earlier if the system had existed. So Nastase was the first No.1 of the "modern era".
Nastase writes of his anxiety at having to retire eventually from the main Tour, and then finally deciding to do so around the same time as his doubles partner Jimmy Connors with whom he'd won some Grand Slam doubles including Wimbledon. But this isn't the end of the book by a long way. He writes of his life all the way up to when the book was published in 2004 and of course he's still going strong, still plays doubles in veteran events. He's had three marriages and some children and a very full, enjoyable life. His book is filled with joie-de-vivre even when as sometimes, inevitably, things might go wrong.
This is one of the best autobiographies I've ever read. You wouldn't need to be a tennis fan to simply enjoy Nastase's engaging personality and life history.