Halep win eclipsed by Nastase appearance

Simona Halep posing with her Fed Cup coach Ilie Nastase after winning her second straight Madrid Open title. Nastase is banned from the French Open and Wimbledon after a series of foul-mouthed rants last month.
Simona Halep posing with her Fed Cup coach Ilie Nastase after winning her second straight Madrid Open title. Nastase is banned from the French Open and Wimbledon after a series of foul-mouthed rants last month.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • Simona Halep thanked much-criticised Fed Cup coach Ilie Nastase after retaining her Madrid Open title on Saturday.

However, the 70-year-old's role in the trophy presentation was labelled "irresponsible and unacceptable" by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

Halep, who edged out Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 in a thrilling final, was congratulated on court by Nastase as the Romanian received the trophy named after Nastase's former doubles partner and Madrid Open owner, Ion Tiriac.

Nastase has been banned from the French Open and Wimbledon after he was ejected from Romania's Fed Cup clash with Britain last month for a series of foul-mouthed rants directed at British captain Anne Keothavong and No. 1 Johanna Konta, as well as umpires and members of the press.

"He had no place on court today," said WTA chief executive officer Steve Simon in a statement. "He is under a provisional suspension 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."

However, Halep thanked the former world No. 1 before happily posing for a picture with him courtside. She said: "Ilie, thank you for coming, you are supporting me all match."

Nastase's presence overshadowed a high-quality match in which France's Mladenovic played a huge part.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2017, with the headline 'Halep win eclipsed by Nastase appearance'. Print Edition | Subscribe