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View Full Version : What were Nastase's best ever matches on each surface (clay,hard,grass,indoor) ?


Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-21-2009, 04:04 AM
And how do you rate him, at his very best, against the other greats (contemporary or not, be it against Trabert or Nadal) at their own best too, on each surface ?

There are already answers spread out in different threads but it would helpful if all the answers were in the same thread.
Eventually if this sort of thread is liked, it could be duplicated for other players than Nasty.

To help answers, here is a (debatable) selection of Nastase's best performances.
Of course you can propose any other match(es) :

Clay
Rome 1970, final (Kodes)
Monte Carlo 1971, final (Okker)
Nice 1972, final (Kodes)
Bastad 1972, final (Orantes)
Roland Garros 1973, R16 (Jauffret)
Roland Garros 1973, quarter (Taylor)
Roland Garros 1973, semi (Gorman)
Roland Garros 1973, final (Pilic)
Rome 1973, quarter (Kodes)
Rome 1973, final (Orantes)
Gstaad 1973, final (Emerson)
Barcelona 1973, semi (Kodes)
Barcelona 1973, final (Orantes)
Madrid 1974, semi (Vilas)
Madrid 1974, final (Borg)
Barcelona 1974, final (Orantes)
Valencia 1975, final (Orantes)
Pepsi Grand Slam, Myrtle Beach 1976, final (Orantes)


Hard
La Costa 1976, semi (Vilas)
La Costa 1976, final (Connors)
WCT Challenge Cup 1976, round robin (Rosewall)
WCT Challenge Cup 1976, semi (Borg)
WCT Challenge Cup 1976, final (Ashe)

Grass
Wimbledon 1972, final (Smith)
US Open 1972, final (Ashe)
Masters 1974, semi (Newcombe)


Indoor

a - medium

Masters 1975, semi (Vilas)
Masters 1975, final (Borg)

b - fast

Wembley 1971, final (Laver)
Masters 1971 round-robin, deciding match (Smith)
Paris Coubertin 1973, final (Smith)

pc1
04-21-2009, 05:11 AM
And how do you rate him, at his very best, against the other greats (contemporary or not, be it against Trabert or Nadal) at their own best too, on each surface ?

There are already answers spread out in different threads but it would helpful if all the answers were in the same thread.
Eventually if this sort of thread is liked, it could be duplicated for other players than Nasty.

To help answers, here is a (debatable) selection of Nastase's best performances.
Of course you can propose any other match(es) :

Clay
Rome 1970, final (Kodes)
Monte Carlo 1971, final (Okker)
Nice 1972, final (Kodes)
Bastad 1972, final (Orantes)
Roland Garros 1973, R16 (Jauffret)
Roland Garros 1973, quarter (Taylor)
Roland Garros 1973, semi (Gorman)
Roland Garros 1973, final (Pilic)
Rome 1973, quarter (Kodes)
Rome 1973, final (Orantes)
Gstaad 1973, final (Emerson)
Barcelona 1973, semi (Kodes)
Barcelona 1973, final (Orantes)
Madrid 1974, semi (Vilas)
Madrid 1974, final (Borg)
Barcelona 1974, final (Orantes)
Valencia 1975, final (Orantes)
Pepsi Grand Slam, Myrtle Beach 1976, final (Orantes)


Hard
La Costa 1976, semi (Vilas)
La Costa 1976, final (Connors)
WCT Challenge Cup 1976, round robin (Rosewall)
WCT Challenge Cup 1976, semi (Borg)
WCT Challenge Cup 1976, final (Ashe)

Grass
Wimbledon 1972, final (Smith)
US Open 1972, final (Ashe)
Masters 1974, semi (Newcombe)


Indoor

a - medium

Masters 1975, semi (Vilas)
Masters 1975, final (Borg)

b - fast

Wembley 1971, final (Laver)
Masters 1971 round-robin, deciding match (Smith)

This is impossible for me to say because this is very subjective Carlo. I love the thread because I always enjoyed the style of Nastase but it's tough to say. I did not see most of the matches and the ones I saw are a long time ago.

I do remember a bit of the Newcombe match in 1974 at the Masters and I can tell you that Nastase was like a puppeteer. He was brilliant. The ball was on a string. I recall one exchange at the net where it seem that Newcombe was certain to win the point and Nastase hit a volley behind his back for a winner and made a joke "Don't hit it there!"

If memory serves I remember another incredible point in which Newcombe hit a powerful smash and Nastase reached it and smashed back the overhead for a winner. Newcombe was stunned.

I think Nastase won in straight sets.

Nastase at his best was greater than most of the great players on most surfaces. He had a good solid backhand that he usually sliced but could hit topspin drives and topspin lobs if he desired. He had a great forehand usually hit with some topspin and very consistent with decent pace and depth and he had great variety with both groundstrokes and super touch. His forehand was particularly dangerous when on the run. His serve was good and clearly above average and his court coverage was fabulous. He had super reflexes at the net and was hard to pass.

I would clearly favor Nastase over Federer on red clay. On grass, Nastase had a very good serve and a solid volley, not a very penetrating volley but he covered the net like a blanket and was very hard to pass like I wrote before. Off the ground on the current grass at Wimbledon Nastase would be able to stay in every rally with Federer because of his excellent court coverage. Again at his best I would say it's very close against Federer on grass, assuming Federer's at his best. On hard court, against very close. I can see Nastase taking advantage of the much weaker Federer backhand and also using a lot of drop shots and lobs. Federer has more power but Federer often can be frustrated if a player returns shots that he thinks should be winners and Nastase, with his excellent speed and court coverage can do that. Nastase was brilliant but he never was able to have the great record that his considerable talents should have afforded him.

Clearly Federer is a far greater player than Nastase but it would have been fantastic to see both play at their best on any surface. This is actually a fun fantasy tennis match that I have gone over in my mind quite often and I thank you Carlo for the opportunity to express myself on this subject.

What I wrote is all subjective and I'm sure many Federer fans would disagree with me that Nastase would make it close against Federer. And they would be as correct as I am.

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-21-2009, 11:33 PM
This is impossible for me to say because this is very subjective Carlo.

Of course this is very subjective because 3 decades separate Nastase and Federer (the player with whom you compare Ilie).

When I say that Rosewall is my all-time favourite player I'm not completely accurate, in reality Rosewall is my all-time favourite man playing top tennis which is a different statement. Rosewall seemed to be a gentleman on and off the court, had a nice game and was (is) so underrated and so unlucky because he couldn't play open tennis when he was at his best. Besides with him it was always David versus Goliath so I was enclined to support David. And strictly as a player (that is when I judge his game beauty) Rosewall is one of my favourite but not the very first one who is Nastase.
But the first time I saw Nastase live (not physically but on TV) was at Roland Garros 1977 where he faced Kodes in the round of 16 so I have never seen Nasty live at his best (from Wembley 1971 to Washington WCT 1974 then intermittently until the WCT Avis Challenge Cup 1976). So he is a sort of dreamed or fantasized player for me even though I watched him on videos decades later because the sensation is not the same (the same for every other player, Connors, Borg, Lendl, Mac whom I saw at their peaks and when I watch them now : then there were fantastic players in my mind, now with time passing by, they look a little less fantastic).
About the Masters 1974, Nasty beat Newk 6-3 7-6 6-2.
Yesterday I received the Tennis de France relating the Masters 1975 (that I bought on line) and in the account Alain Deflassieux said that the Nasty who played in that tourney from the decisive set against Orantes till his final victory was invincible. Deflassieux couldn't see any player able to beat him. But the surface favoured Ilie because it was a slow one (Vilas, who was mainly a player of slow surfaces said that the Masters court was slow) while on grass in particular as Vijay Amritraj recalled Nastase couldn't really put volleys away (as a Kramer for instance). His volley, with sometimes his short second service (as in Monte Carlo in 1974 when he asked (I think Adam Stolpa but I'm not sure) to help him to recover his second serve) that for instance Rosewall exploited very well, was his weakest stroke in my opinion.
One particular question :
Do you think that Nastase was at his very best on grass against Borg in their 1976 Wimbledon final ?
Personally I don't think because in my opinion he could have played better in mid-match.
Borgforever doesn't claim that Nasty was at his very very best but deeply thinks that Ilie was close to his best in that match.
jeffreyneave thinks that Ilie only played great when he was led but as soon as Ilie was even in the third set, Nastase began to play badly again.
What's your opinion ?

Borgforever
04-22-2009, 04:04 AM
Sorry Carlo but I think you need to get yourself a copy of the 1976 Wimby final. I think Ilie was great in 1976 -- especially at Wimby. We've been over this before at length -- according to krosero's stats of the W 1976 F Borg smokes more winners in this match than he did in any other W final (including the 1978 final) and -- true Ilie lost focus mid-match, losing the first which he had a great chance at winning himself (Borg said first set was key for both players to find rythm much because they hadn't lost a set no-one of them up until the final) -- but I think Wimby 1976 overall Ilie played close to if not his best tennis ever. At least the best I've seen Ilie play. As Stan Smith proved in 1972 Ilie is vulnerable if one overpowers him robbing him of the extra milli-second to prepare a devastating reply. I only thought Smith played as good as a 1976-Borg in the 5th set at Wimby 1972.

Ilie said he was stunned that Borg was able to hit so hard the final -- and pull off so many winners. But Ilie was great in 1976. He beat Connors 3-1 that year, beat Borg in a fivesetter, if Borg had defaulted because of the stomach injury -- Wimby probably would've been his since Ilie could beat Tanner and Nasty made the USO SF later in the year. Without Borg Ilie could've been No. 1 owning Jimbo that year being so close at nailing Wimby with a perfect streak.

Ilie is one rare bird is that he is one of three players who've ever won RG without losing a set in 1973 (RG is perhaps the toughest tourney to be victorious at without a single set loss) AND reaching the Wimby-final also without losing a set -- opposite surface domination.

At RG everybody knows a perfect streak of sets was achieved by Nasty 1973, Borg 1978, 80 (and 75 only one set lost) and Rafa 2008.

At Wimby the perfect set-streak has happened four times since 1877 and has been very close a few times. Connors made the final in 1975 and Fedex in 2006 without set loss as well as Ilie in 1976.

The perfect-streak winners are Don Budge 1938 (Amateur era - no Perry, Nusslein or Vines et al), Tony Trabert 1955 (amateur era - no Gonzales, Sedgman et al), Chuck McKinley 1963 (amateur era - no Rosewall, Laver et al) and Borg 1976 (at 20 years old). Never happened since.

So we have another unique record in the history of tennis that Borg is alone at owning -- three times out of his 11 official majors (and 14 unofficial majors including WCT 1976 & YEC 79, 80) Björn didn't lose a set.

Fed was 21-0 at AO in 2007 and Rafa 2008. Let's see who matches Borg first in that category...

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-22-2009, 04:53 AM
Yes Borgforever you just detail what I wrote before : "Borgforever doesn't claim that Nasty was at his very very best but deeply thinks that Ilie was close to his best in that match."

Your stats about no sets lost are relevant to the open era alone. We don't mind what Trabert or Budge made in amateur events because the best were absent. We don't know what the great players of the pre-open era would have done had they been allowed to enter these events but eventually we can check what they did in great pro events.

So I don't learn anything new from your post above. I would be much more interested in your opinions about Nasty's greatest matches on other surfaces than grass (eventually in picking up matches from my selection).

pc1
04-22-2009, 05:00 AM
Sorry Carlo but I think you need to get yourself a copy of the 1976 Wimby final. I think Ilie was great in 1976 -- especially at Wimby. We've been over this before at length -- according to krosero's stats of the W 1976 F Borg smokes more winners in this match than he did in any other W final (including the 1978 final) and -- true Ilie lost focus mid-match, losing the first which he had a great chance at winning himself (Borg said first set was key for both players to find rythm much because they hadn't lost a set no-one of them up until the final) -- but I think Wimby 1976 overall Ilie played close to if not his best tennis ever. At least the best I've seen Ilie play. As Stan Smith proved in 1972 Ilie is vulnerable if one overpowers him robbing him of the extra milli-second to prepare a devastating reply. I only thought Smith played as good as a 1976-Borg in the 5th set at Wimby 1972.

Ilie said he was stunned that Borg was able to hit so hard the final -- and pull off so many winners. But Ilie was great in 1976. He beat Connors 3-1 that year, beat Borg in a fivesetter, if Borg had defaulted because of the stomach injury -- Wimby probably would've been his since Ilie could beat Tanner and Nasty made the USO SF later in the year. Without Borg Ilie could've been No. 1 owning Jimbo that year being so close at nailing Wimby with a perfect streak.

Ilie is one rare bird is that he is one of three players who've ever won RG without losing a set in 1973 (RG is perhaps the toughest tourney to be victorious at without a single set loss) AND reaching the Wimby-final also without losing a set -- opposite surface domination.

At RG everybody knows a perfect streak of sets was achieved by Nasty 1973, Borg 1978, 80 (and 75 only one set lost) and Rafa 2008.

At Wimby the perfect set-streak has happened four times since 1877 and has been very close a few times. Connors made the final in 1975 and Fedex in 2006 without set loss as well as Ilie in 1976.

The perfect-streak winners are Don Budge 1938 (Amateur era - no Perry, Nusslein or Vines et al), Tony Trabert 1955 (amateur era - no Gonzales, Sedgman et al), Chuck McKinley 1963 (amateur era - no Rosewall, Laver et al) and Borg 1976 (at 20 years old). Never happened since.

So we have another unique record in the history of tennis that Borg is alone at owning -- three times out of his 11 official majors (and 14 unofficial majors including WCT 1976 & YEC 79, 80) Björn didn't lose a set.

Fed was 21-0 at AO in 2007 and Rafa 2008. Let's see who matches Borg first in that category...

Borgforever and Carlo,

Unfortunately I don't have a copy of the 1976 Wimbledon final but I did remember that Nastase didn't lose a set (like Borg) in reaching the final so you would figure he was in great form. In 1976 Nastase was either 30 or about to turn 30 at Wimbledon so he was still fairly young and at worse fairly close to his peak.

From what I recall of the final and it has been many years since I've seen it I thought Nastase played well but Borg was in the zone. If I recall correctly I think Nastase was shocked that Borg served so well while he was injured. Borg was spraying that freezing substance on his stomach in between games and I don't think Nastase was too happy about it.

Borg, at his peak and you may possible say that he was almost at his peak in 1976 Wimbledon was a tough opponent for Nastase because Nastase couldn't hurt him in any way.

Nastase's volley, which could hurt almost anyone was fairly useless against the great speed of Borg.

I think I agree with you Borgever that in retrospect Borg was the best grass court player in the world and perhaps the best player but I think the general feeling at the time was that it was lucky for Borg that Tanner beat Connors in Borg's side of the draw. Incidentally a lot of criticism for Borg in that he didn't defeat a top grass court player. Well he defeated Nastase, Tanner, Ashe (at the U.S. Open), McEnroe (with a torn stomach muscle at the 1980 Wimbledon) not to mention the guy he owned for years, Jimmy Connors.

Carlo, I'm a big fan of Nastase and I think his unique style would do a lot of destructive things to many of the top players today. I could see Nastase embarrassing Djokovic for example on almost any surface. What can Djokovic possibly do to bother Nastase? I'm not saying Nastase would destroy Djokovic every time but I can easily see it happening.

Nadal, while he may do well would be confused initially on how to handle such a unique and different type player. It's hard for me to see Federer beating Nastase often on clay and I think Nastase would be competition on all surfaces with Federer. The different angles, speeds, spins of Nastase would leave Federer and Nadal totally puzzled at first.

Nadal is a very bright player so I can see him making adjustments to the incredible tennis style of Nastase.

I do feel that Nastase may be more talented than Nadal and Federer. It's tough to say since both Nadal and Federer are so gifted but in speed Nastase is every bit as fast and he's a far better racket handler with an infinite variety of shots and decent power.

HOWEVER, even a top form Nastase would have major problems with a peak Borg. And I have seem them play a number of times in person.

urban
04-22-2009, 05:31 AM
On the other hand, Nastase did beat Borg very badly in a straight set shutout at Stockholm in late 1975. And one cannot say, that Borg wasn't in form. He had beaten the Nr. 1 Ashe in the semi, and one week later he did win the DC almost single-handedly.
That must be one of Nasty's best matches. Another fine match, i later saw clips from, was the Wembley Laver match from autumn 1971. Nastase was probably at his best indoors, Laver was a bit past his prime, but always played well at Wembley, and the match could have gone either way. On match point, Nasty played a stunning running forehand cross court, to set the charging Laver on the wrong foot. I match i would have loved to see, was the 1970 Philadephia match with Laver, which Laver won 7-6 in the third.

pc1
04-22-2009, 05:36 AM
On the other hand, Nastase did beat Borg very badly in a straight set shutout at Stockholm in late 1975. And one cannot say, that Borg wasn't in form. He had beaten the Nr. 1 Ashe in the semi, and one week later he did win the DC almost single-handedly.
That must be one of Nasty's best matches. Another fine match, i later saw clips from, was the Wembley Laver match from autumn 1971. Nastase was probably at his best indoors, Laver was a bit past his prime, but always played well at Wembley, and the match could have gone either way. On match point, Nasty played a stunning running forehand cross court, to set the charging Laver on the wrong foot. I match i would have loved to see, was the 1970 Philadephia match with Laver, which Laver won 7-6 in the third.

Urban,

Excellent point and I always wanted to see that Wembley Match. I understand it was fantastic.

I thought about that match in Stockholm and my general thought was that Borg wasn't the player he was to become in 1976, when he improved his serve and his volley.

I didn't even know about the 1970 Philadelphia Match. Wow, 7-6 in the third with two of the most gifted players ever near their peaks.

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-22-2009, 06:37 AM
...Laver on the wrong foot. I match i would have loved to see, was the 1970 Philadephia match with Laver, which Laver won 7-6 in the third.

Wasn't it 8-6 instead of 7-6 though the tie-breaker was introduced in that tournament (but perhaps not in the deciding set) ? If I think about it I will check it.

They also met in 1969 but Laver crushed Nasty that time.

pc1
04-22-2009, 06:43 AM
Wasn't it 8-6 instead of 7-6 though the tie-breaker was introduced in that tournament (but perhaps not in the deciding set) ? If I think about it I will check it.

They also met in 1969 but Laver crushed Nasty that time.

Just checked the ATP website and they have it at 8-6 in the third.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/tennis/3/en/players/headtohead/default.asp?playernum1=L058&playernum2=N008

Carlo, just curious, how do you think Nastase's talent compares to players like Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray today?

Borgforever
04-22-2009, 06:51 AM
On the other hand, Nastase did beat Borg very badly in a straight set shutout at Stockholm in late 1975. And one cannot say, that Borg wasn't in form. He had beaten the Nr. 1 Ashe in the semi, and one week later he did win the DC almost single-handedly.
That must be one of Nasty's best matches. Another fine match, i later saw clips from, was the Wembley Laver match from autumn 1971. Nastase was probably at his best indoors, Laver was a bit past his prime, but always played well at Wembley, and the match could have gone either way. On match point, Nasty played a stunning running forehand cross court, to set the charging Laver on the wrong foot. I match i would have loved to see, was the 1970 Philadephia match with Laver, which Laver won 7-6 in the third.

Very true Urban! Borg was very much in form at YEC Masters 1975 but he did play a very poor match (Björn Hellberg names Björn's perf his worst since he turned pro). Borg's many unusual UE may very much stem from the unique match-dynamic created between them by the particular indoor surface -- which was much slower than the hard-baked tropical Wimby 1976 grass.

I have the Wimby-final on right now beside me and Kramer just concurred after the first game (which Nasty won) with my earlier report that:

Dan Maskell: "I must say that was a very fine opening service game from Nastase. Six first services in out of the points played. He had a break-point against him -- it's true but I think Nastase would be very happy even though he was taken to deuce just once -- I think that Nastase would be very happy to have started like that."

Jack Kramer: "And, Dan, apparently because of the quick conditions and the fast balls which go with this very, very hot weather he's not going to play Borg the way he played him up in Stockholm where we saw him serve, stay back and approach off of his backhand groundstroke most of the time. He knew that Borg wasn't going to be able to come in so he felt no danger. That first game we saw him serve and come in on every point so he's going to play his normal serve and volley game..."

As I stated many times before. A peak Nastase could make mashed potatoes of peak Borg (and anybody else if the surface wasn't super-fast and he didn't face an absolute cannon-ball serve, consistent shoe-lace aimed cannonball returns, great pounding volleys and overheads and an enormous amount of smoking passingshots with the great pace on these shots helped by a faster grass -- everything which Borg produced in the Wimby-final according to the demands that the extremely fast conditions created.

Had the grass in 1976 been of 1975 quality: dry but a little humid with still sliding bounce but a lower one and a little slower it could IMO change the entire complexion of the match-up between Nasty and Borg that day.

Therefore I agree with pc1 that today -- on the slower grass turf -- Ilie would stand a better shot at the Wimby title because if Ilie just got a little time (not ages mind you) he could come up with stuff even Mac and Laver (and arguably anybody in the history of the game) would drop their jaws with a thud on the floor at in amazement...

Borgforever
04-22-2009, 07:05 AM
And I might stress Ilie beat the crap out of Borg several times -- even on clay (!), even in fierce five-setters (twice actually -- no mean feat) up until at the end of 1976, and I must stress again that Ilie won the super-tough RG with a perfect streak (without losing a set) at arguably his peak year in 1973 perfomance-wise AND RG is/was arguably the toughest tourney to pull that off in.

And only Borg, Federer and Nadal has won a major like in such a dominating fashion since. That must count for something...

pc1
04-22-2009, 07:10 AM
And I might stress Ilie beat the crap out of Borg several times -- even on clay (!), even in fierce five-setters (twice actually -- no mean feat) up until at the end of 1976, and I must stress again that Ilie won the super-tough RG with a perfect streak (without losing a set) at arguably his peak year in 1973 perfomance-wise AND RG is/was arguably the toughest tourney to pull that off in.

And only Borg, Federer and Nadal has won a major like in such a dominating fashion since. That must count for something...

Ilie was brilliant. A very unique talent in the history of tennis.

Borgforever, just curious how do you think Nastase was do today if he was in his prime against Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic? I would be very interested in your analysis.

Borgforever
04-22-2009, 09:52 AM
Ilie was brilliant. A very unique talent in the history of tennis.

Borgforever, just curious how do you think Nastase was do today if he was in his prime against Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic? I would be very interested in your analysis.

Just a very tough question but a fascinating one indeed. Today Ilie would've been able to hit with even more exaggerated trickery, spins and mind-bending angles -- such a rare ability has always been extinct. Ilie's pure tennis talent was IMO on the level of Laver and Borg and his touch could surpass Mac's when he was in apex form -- although I contend that Mac was more consistent in his attack and had during his prime a consistently heavier and effective serve. Ilie's serve was the best (I agree with Dan Maskell here) in 1976 (meaning high percentage and hardest) since Ilie had practiced serve almost a much as Borg did just before Wimby. I think that Nastase beat Connors in a fine match on grass in a tourney-final (Nottingham?) just before Wimby -- and Ilie had started his intense serve-drills even before this competition so this victory was his first factual receipt to that stroke-improving initiative...

But early 70s was a strange transformative time filled with strange, mercurial changes and contradictions in the existence of tennis-players and less comfortable perks and a certain lack of safety nets in many different ways -- and the solid, streamlined and pampered tour-life would IMO produce an even more effective version of Nasty's game.

I think that on clay Ilie would be very, very tough for Nadal (in 1973 form -- and in his finest form late 1975 and early to mid-1976)...

His enormous versatility and skills to surprise and outmaneuver would push Rafa to the deciding set several times. Ilie was almost impossible to defeat on slower surfaces on his best days -- a fact underlined by his fine defeats of Borg on clay on a great and close to great Björn -- no excuses. At the end of 1976 he was actually up 13-4 in H2H's with Jimbo (even though Jimbo won their last eight matches their rivalry ended 13-11 in favor of Nastase) and a very close H2H with Borg 5-5 (right before their Wimby-battle Ilie led their rivalry with 5-3 and after their WCT five set war out in Hawaii that May Ilie unusually and remarkably won turning around a 2 sets to 1 lead by Borg -- but after this Ilie never beat The Ice Man again losing seven straight matches ending their rivalry 5-10).

Here I claim again that the disappointment at Wimby 1976 took the wind out of Nastase's career and motivation and he didn't work hard at it anymore after this throwing away the rest and last of his great potential/talent/opportunities.

Think about it -- had the weather been different at Wimby Nastase could've probably been the No. 1 in 1976. Masters, Wimby and maybe even USO where he lost to Borg in the semis -- and without Borg he would probably beaten Jimbo under medium fast surface (he was 3-1 against Connors in 1976 almost blow-outing Jimbo in every match. I wonder what would've happened then? Where would he be in the GOAT discussions then...

In my mind Ilie would've kept at it and had not dropped his edge and form in the late 70s had he won Wimby (and the USO). I wouldn't mind if Ilie won the 1976 Wimby -- I really enjoyed watching him -- and I almost dang Borg because of this since he punctured Ilie's future with that bitter loss. But as I say Borg won it because of the faster surface AND his great game and form which matched the surroundings.

But up until 1976 Nastase was a tremendous No. 1 threat and sometime No. 1 -- and on that basis I would give him great chances at pushing Nadal to his limits and scoring a win or two -- matching Nadal like he did Borg. Rafa is IMO stronger mentally (like Björn) and would've had a slight edge in fierce fights but he could win those too (as he did at Hawaii-76 and Madrid-74 against Borgman) but Rafa, as pc1 says is quick to adapt, change his game and raise his game so he would probably come out on top in their rivalry but it's close and Rafa wouldn't like playing Ilie I think...

(cont'd)

Borgforever
04-22-2009, 10:25 AM
(cont'd)

Roger Federer, an all-round player with a foundation as an aggressive baseliner, would IMO be more vulnerable than Nadal to Nasty's unpredictable and magical playing style -- since Roger, as pointed out by pc1, shares tactical style with peak Connors being a slugger-player not prone to change and adapt his game if he is disturbed -- at least not as good as Rafa would against Ilie. Severe problems for Roger who's demonstrated knack for losing his nerve and patience in heated and punishing moments. Nastase's amazing anticipation and fantastic speed would surprise and irritate Roger IMO -- much like Rafa.

I would however give Roger a heavy favorite label over Nastase at today's USO and HC cement surfaces since Fed's power-game would stress Ilie and rob him off those milli-seconds he needs to create his unique and magical shotmaking (much like Borg at W76). Otherwise I think Nastase would have a heavy advantage and do very well on clay and grass and probably indoors. If Roger kept his calm and not flipped or collapsed and kept going cannonball with his serve at high percentages he could IMO keep himself in the match with Ilie -- probably then on todays grass and indoors but not on clay where Ilie wins pretty much every time in my fantasy-match-up book.

I think that Nastase would've had the clear winning edge over Djokovic as well as Murray on clay (dominating), grass (dominating) and indoor (having the edge in a tighter rivalry but not dominating) but they would IMO have very good chances against him on HC cement if they, as Roger, served well and tried to overpower Ilie. Nasty's unparallelled touch, cobra-reflexes (yes, Carlo!:-)) and unbelievably creative shots has not been seen since he and Mac left the scene (with a tiny reservation for Mecir and Rios maybe...) and it would unsettle anybody...

Overpowering tennis was Nastase's cryptonite IMO but with the slower surfaces and lack of versatility practice that comes with the lack of diversity of today creates ideal conditions that plays like a super-highway straight into Ilie's greatest strengths and game-style while diminishing his the greatest threats in one clean swoop. He would probably be more successful today than in the early 70s is my main thought...

But there's also the unpredictability-factor that one must account for in theories such as these -- which means who knows what explosions and chain-reactions that would appear when you throw two unknown substances together in a jar. Nitro and Glycerine are two perfectly stable substances in themselves -- but thrown together they become some of the most unstable of all concoctions...

pc1
04-22-2009, 10:45 AM
Wow. Great analysis.

urban
04-22-2009, 10:50 AM
Borgforever mentions one grass match between Nastase and Connors at Nottingham in 1976, which was played brilliantly in the rain and ended in a draw, when play was suspended at one set all. I remember to hear the live commentary on the BBC radio that day. In the 70s, the BBC radio, which went day by day, was my main source of Wimbledon matches, because the German TV only showed semis and finals. For a long time i had audio material of the whole Borg-Connors 1977 final. The commentary by Max Robertson was excellent, one could really visualize the match, following the live commentary.

Borgforever
04-22-2009, 12:14 PM
Regarding your fine list I would like to single out Nastase's complete and utter destruction of Orantes in Rome 1973 as one of his platinum moments. I saw the last set of that at RAI in Italy some years ago. He pulverized Manolo 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. Now Orantes (as a player has great feel) so he couldn't do anything -- but he was great in that tourney, strong, consistent, served well and didn't miss at all almost. But Ilie toyed with him in a way that Mac did with Jimbo in 84. Everything worked for the Romanian. He was playing a shade more brilliant than Borg at Masters because Manuel was better than Borg that day. Ilie's Pilic-destruction at RG 1973 is also magnificent. Hellberg says Nikki was the tourney surprise, had great momentum and inspiration but Ilie went 6-3, 6-3, 6-0. I haven't seen a frame from this execution while Björn Hellberg says that Ilie was deadly efficiency personified in that match.

I also like to remind everybody again that Ilie made a wonderful pancake out of Raul Ramirez on fire in the Wimby SF 1976. Wasn't it Rex Bellamy who said that match was the finest and most brilliant grass-court display seen at Wimby for several years? I seem to remember that.

I've seen the Ramirez match and it is great (it's at BBC and if you're doing a university paper of some sorts -- or you are maybe researching a new book -- call them and make up a viewing appointment -- the BBC archives is THE tennis-Ark in RAIDERS OF THE LOST TENNIS-MATCHES). And his Pasarell match in the same tourney was awesome...

Borgforever
04-22-2009, 01:40 PM
Borgforever mentions one grass match between Nastase and Connors at Nottingham in 1976, which was played brilliantly in the rain and ended in a draw, when play was suspended at one set all. I remember to hear the live commentary on the BBC radio that day. In the 70s, the BBC radio, which went day by day, was my main source of Wimbledon matches, because the German TV only showed semis and finals. For a long time i had audio material of the whole Borg-Connors 1977 final. The commentary by Max Robertson was excellent, one could really visualize the match, following the live commentary.

Thanks Urban for clarifying and settling the Nottingham 1976 question. I've heard from several that Nastase practiced serve like crazy out there around Birmingham in early to mid-June 1976 and that he was "devastating against Connors as can be" and "played really amazing, especially on his serve" and Dan Maskell mentions this during the Wimby-final saying "Nastase, who hardly a month ago also played so great against Connors in a final on grass under the most difficult circumstances of wind and rain..." so with these reports I naturally assumed Ilie won -- but thanks to Urban we now know. But apparently Ilie served and played like a favorite Wimby champ...

What impression did you get from listening to that match Urban? Do you remember how well Ilie and Jimbo played that day? Was Ilie better?

I would also like to add one further detail regarding Murray and Nastase: I think that Murray would stand a better chance at threatening Ilie than Djokovic (as it is up until now -- we don't know yet what Novak has in store for us in his future career, now do we?) for the reason that Murray, at his best, has a very varied style and is also very clever so he could probably IMO adapt to the array of bewildering and surprising Nastase-shots. Novak needs great serves and good consistency-percentage on his power-shots to create a great advantage in duels with The Romanian Genius.

But as great as Ilie undoubtedly was and could've become had he had a few more breaks in his favor (born 1983 instead and belong to the "slower court era" or was blessed with an overcast, slightly humid weather the 3rd of July 1976 et al) -- he had his enormously crazy side with some -- actually -- nasty behaviour, pure gamesmanship on more than a few occasions.

One can wonder what Ilie was thinking when his absolute nemesis Ken Rosewall said, loud and clear, right in front of Nastase, the assembled press corp and the spectators directly after Ken had totally sunk a Nasty close to his peak form at the Hong Kong-final in late 1976 (with 6-0 in the 4th and last set!): "Nastase is incredibly spoiled. He behaves like a little kid. It's never fun playing him."...

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-23-2009, 12:58 AM
Hello misters,
sometimes I've got problems with the computer and for instance at this very right moment I can't reply directly pc1's quote about comparisons between Nastase and modern players.

I have the complete results of the ITPA tournament at Philadelphia in 1970 (including the two qualifying rounds) in one of my World Tennis. I watched them all and I was amazed to note that there was no tie-breaker at all (unlike I said earlier) though in many sources it was stated the modern tie-breaker was introduced in that event. In fact there is no set at all concluded 7-6 (or 6-5 or 9-8 or ...), the most disputed match was the second round between Osborne and Franulovic won by the former 68 86 86. And indeed Laver d. Nasty 46 62 86.

About Nasty I think that the best Nasty on grass would have perhaps been beaten by the best Fortress Bear (this is the first time that I use this surname) on grass something like 64 75 97 (score based on his showing at Wimby 76). I'm still convinced that Nasty at Wimby 76 wasn't at his very best but Borgforever has convinced me that probably Nasty wouldn't have won a set (or very difficultly) on fast grass because on quick courts Nasty could be outpowered and not having that important fraction of second needed to reply as he had on slower surfaces.
And as stated by Borgforever on clay (slow surfaces) Nastase was more than a threat : I haven't read in detail your recent posts Borgforever (and urban) and I won't do it in the following hours because I haven't much time now but I will read them later quietly.

About Nasty and modern players (as with all ancient players and modern players) I have many difficulties to compare them. For instance I hadn't seen the Borg-Lendl Garros final between the live and 27 years later ago and when I saw it again about a year ago, it was a shock for me to watch again their match and to compare that with my old golden memory. Suddenly I noted that for instance both players couldn't attack on many of their long cross-court backhand rallies. Now modern players can attack more easily on that sort of long rallies but as it was stated it in this forum it isn't probably due to more skilful or physically stronger modern players but to modern rackets which are sort of modern guns while wooden rackets were just scouts knifes.
So it is awfully tough for me to compare "wooden" players with "graphite" players. So sorry pc1 for not giving you an accurate view. On the other hand, in my own personal selfish view, I'm very glad to see your (and Borgforever's and urban's) comments on that topic.
However I will try to give you my simplistic rough view which once again I don't feel accurate at all especially as I haven't yet read your analysis (I've just recorded them).

For me Djokovic has a temperament close enough to Nastase, namely that sometimes (or often) Djoko can mentally explode. On clay I have never been impressed by him but I haven't seen his Hamburg match against Nadal last year when he was told to have very well played in the middle of the match, I've heard that Nadal couldn't do anything and once again I haven't seen their Monte Carlo final (and in particular the second set won by Djoko). So I think that between Nasty and Djoko wins could have been shared according to the good shape of one or the other. However Djoko's play seems monochord with the balls flirting the lines : when they are inside the court it's very well but when they got beyond the limits of the court, Djoko hasn't another plan of game. So Nasty would have had the edge because his game was so varied but on the other hand when Nasty wasn't confident he wasn't a great threat to anyone. For instance at Monte Carlo 74 his second serve was so short that he lost to Pattison and his confidence waned until September (and he played badly until the US Open included). Then he recovered his confidence (in Evans' book he stated that he was overconfident in that autumn 1974) and he played pretty well until the Masters (even in the final he played well but Vilas would have played the match of his life according to Nasty in his own autobiography).
So between Nasty and Djoko on clay I give a slight edge to Nasty. That's all I can say.
Between Nasty and Murray I don't know. Murray now seems more regular than Djoko. I still don't think that Murray has a very great shot but he has impressed me in recent months by his medium level improvement. Except in some special conditions (as in the very windy final at Indian Wells when he had a huge mental breakdown) now Murray's mean level is pretty high and you have to be strong to beat him. So perhaps Murray would have beaten Nasty more often than the reverse (on every surface) but at their very best perhaps Nastase would have had the edge.
Between Nastase and Federer for the moment I have no clear opinion at all and I rather rely on your opinion, pc1. Possibly on European clay Nasty would have much annoyed Federer. The Swiss hasn't hugely improved on that surface since his loss to Kuerten in 2004 and Gustavo had shown that Federer wasn't so good on that surface.
On grass I think that Federer would have won because for me it was Nastase's worst surface : Nastase's volley was (perhaps I exaggerate) a weakness on grass, it wasn't a definitive winning shot on quick surfaces and though Nasty's quickness prevented many of his opponents to pass him at the net I think this was that fragility which prevented Nasty to reach more than 3 or 4 finals in major grass events (2 Wimby, 1 Forest and eventually I can count his Masters 74 final) and above all to win more than 1 major (Forest) though grass was the main surface used in majors during his peak years.
Between Nastase and Nadal. For me there isn't a great difference between Nadal and Borg on clay (here again I will read later what Borgforever wrote about his comparison between the two great claycourters) so I think that the best Nasty would have won 1 or 2 sets on clay against the best Nadal or the best Borg but that in the end those players would have prevailed in the 5th set because of their mental strength largely superior to the Rumanian.

For the moment I can't give you more and once again I repeat I'm not competent on the subject and indeed this is why I started that thread : to have other opinions than mine to clarify my own ideas.

Tshooter
04-23-2009, 03:44 AM
His greatest (as in most entertaining and memorable for the outrageous behavior) has to be the night match against JMac at the USO when Frank Hammond defaulted him. Until the tournament ump reversed it (the crowd getting close to out of control).

Another notable "performance" against Pohmann in '76 when Nastase, after acting like a jerk for most of the match, spit at Pohmann instead of shaking his hand after winning.

Nastase also went a bit crazy when Barazzutti beat him the next year.

Always a jerk. Often a brilliant player.