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Mr Nastase: The Autobiography Hardcover – 7 Jun 2004
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‘One of the greatest entertainers the game has ever seen’ BBC
Romanian-born Ilie 'Nasty' Nastase was the bad boy of professional tennis in the 1970s and 80s. During his career he won two Grand Slam titles (the US Open and the French Open), three Grand Slam doubles titles and was twice a Wimbledon finalist. He is still a highly colourful and active figure in the world game. It is not an overstatement to say that Ilie Nastase was in part responsible for the explosion of interest in tennis in the seventies. Thanks to his success, his lifestyle, his sex appeal and the controversy that continually surrounded him, Nastase's name was recognisable far beyond the confines of tennis. Yet, he also had a dark side and he regularly got himself into trouble with umpires and spectators alike. His court-side tantrums and manic questioning of line calls could spiral out of control and, all too often, he found himself fined and disqualified -- and making the next day's front pages. Bjorn Borg had great difficulty adjusting to life after retirement and lost vast amounts of money, while the late Vitas Gerulaitis had a major cocaine problem. Ilie reveals how he helped both of them at a time when their problems were taking a huge toll of their personal lives.He also provides opinions and anecdotes on a host of other characters, including John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe, Henri Leconte, Yannick Noah, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. As a result of his celebrity status, Nastase moved amongst the beautiful people. His book recalls some of his more memorable encounters and experiences, including dancing the night away in New York's Studio 54 and Castel in Paris with the likes of Bianca Jagger and Claudia Cardinale, and bedding some of the world's most desirable women (an Italian countess and a former Miss UK are among his conquests). For the many sports fans who followed tennis and followed his career, his stories behind the varied headline-grabbing outbursts will prove fascinating and irresistible. See all Product description
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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.
This book is very well written and covers his life and career recounting his great matches, the big bust ups he had on court and his checkered personal life. He is honest about his own failings both as a player and person and what comes through is a really endearing account of a man who at heart just wanted to entertain and be loved by the public.
A great book for anyone who can remember those great matches from the 70s and the players who made the era so memorable
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