The ITF has upheld their decision to punish former world No.1 Ilie Nastase for his behaviour during a Fed Cup tie last month, but has agreed to slightly reduce his suspension.
71-year-old Nastase caused a series of controversies last year during a Fed Cup clash between Romania and Great Britain. On the eve of the tie, he commented that Serena Williams’ baby will be born ‘chocolate with milk.’ Drawing condemnation that his comment was racist, which he denies. He was also accused of making an unwanted sexual gesture towards the British team captain Anne Keothavong.
The controversy extended onto the court. During one of the matches, he engaged in a heated confrontation with Keothavong and Johanna Konta. Calling both women ‘bitches’ and was later removed from the court before being later suspended from the tie. A day later he returned to the venue to have lunch with a group of friends.
Last July the ITF suspended Nastase for three years and fined him $10,000 for his behaviour. Under the ruling, he is prevented from attending, or working at any tournament sanctioned by the ITF. Although grand slam tournaments are exempt from this as they are covered by a different governing body. The same applies to the ATP and WTA Tours.
Appealing against the decision, the ITF has now ruled that the Romanian should be fined an additional $10,000 in relation to his original sanctions. On the other hand, his suspension has been reduced by eight months. Meaning the former Fed Cup captain will be allowed to act in an official capacity from April 24th 2020.
“In relation to the original sanctions imposed by the ITF Internal Adjudication Panel, the Tribunal has increased the amount of the fine by $10,000, and has reduced both the length of suspension and denial of access to competitions and circuits by approximately eight months.” A statement reads.
The ITF has categorised Nastase’s offences from serious to low-range offending. In total he was found guilty of breeching four rules. These relate to his on-court behaviour, remarks to Keothavong, comments about Williams’ baby and his behaviour with the media.
The serious offence: The board has found Nastase’s outburst on the court the most serious because it ‘took place in the middle of the Match in front of thousands of tennis fans in the stadium.’ They said his actions were the ‘heart and spirit’ of inappropriate behaviour in international sporting events.
The mid-range offence: Nastase’s threats to the media has been described by the ITF as ‘unacceptable conduct.’ In one incident, he called a Press Association journalist ‘stupid’ when challenged about his comments concerning Williams’ baby. The investigation pointed out that the Romanian knows how to appropriately interact with journalists given his 50-year career in the tennis industry.
The low-range offences: Nastase’s comments about Williams’ baby and what he said to Keothavong fall into this category. The ruling says that they ‘did not find it useful’ to distinguish one incident from the other in terms of classifying them.
Nastase hails ruling
In a statement, Nastase has described the reduction of his suspension a ‘victory’ for him. Gazeta Sporturilor reports that the outcome of the decision will enable the Romanian to attend high-profile tournaments without any questioning.
“In view of the Independent Tribunal’s decision, I am confident that there will be no longer any grounds to refuse my access to or accreditation at the major ATP and WTA competitions this year, such as the Madrid, Roland Garros or Wimbledon Tournaments, nor at the WTA from Bucharest.” Said Nastase.
“I’m happy to have the spirit of the big tennis tournaments again. I have dedicated my whole life to this sport and I think I am justified in continuing to take part in this phenomenon.”
Speaking about the incident, Nastase has expressed some remorse by saying that he has ‘learned from his lesson.’ On the other hand, he has also accused the ITF of treating him ‘excessively’ with their original punishment.
“I will not comment on this topic anymore. The details of the content of the Independent Tribunal’s solution will be given by my lawyers, whom I thank for my help in supporting my case.” He stated.
There has been no reaction from Williams or the British Fed Cup team regarding the latest decision.
Fed Cup Finals Draw: Australia And Czech Republic Given Tricky Tests In Budapest
Australia and Czech Republic have been handed difficult draws for the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.
Australia and Czech Republic have been given tricky draws ahead of the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest.
The event in Hungary takes place on the 14th-19th of April on clay to prepare players for the clay-court season that will approach.
In the inaugural event there are 12 nations competing for the Fed Cup title with the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals.
Ahead of April’s Fed Cup finale, the draw was announced today which has seen some mouth-watering matches set to take place.
Last year’s finalist’s Australia are in Group B and they have been given tricky tests against a strong Belarus team and Belgium.
Belarus have Aryna Sabalenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Victoria Azarenka at their disposal while Belgium will be lead by Elise Mertens.
Meanwhile the other group in their half of the draw will see Czech Republic will face tough tests against Germany and a Switzerland team lead by Belinda Bencic.
On the other side of the draw, defending champions France will look to successfully defend their title when they face Russia and hosts Hungary.
Given the scenarios, this is a fairly good draw for France who would regard clay as their strongest surface and are favourites to make the last four.
In the last four, France could play USA who have been drawn with Spain and Slovakia who beat Great Britain in last weekend’s qualifiers.
Here is the full draw with the full round-robin schedule for April’s finals set to be released on Monday:
Winner of Group A v Winner of Group C
Winner of Group B v Winner of Group D
Great Britain Handed Mexican Away Trip In Fed Cup Play-Off Draw
Great Britain face another away tie as they travel to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Offs.
Great Britain have been handed an away trip to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Off draw as they look to compete in next year’s qualifiers.
The Brits, who were without Johanna Konta in their 3-1 defeat away to Slovakia, will now head to Mexico in April looking to avoid being relegated to Zone Group I.
Just like their tie in Bratislava, they are likely to be without Johanna Konta who has one eye on the Olympic Games and also like their tie this past weekend the tie will probably be on clay.
However this time the British team will be favourites to make next year’s Fed Cup qualifiers as the Mexican don’t have a single Women’s singles player in the top 200.
There will be eight Fed Cup play-offs which will be played on the 17th and 18th of April, with the eight winners joining eight teams from the Fed Cup finals.
14 of the 16 teams are confirmed with the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I still needed to be played in early March in Dubai after the Coronavirus epidemic meant that China couldn’t host the event in February.
Here is the full Fed Cup play-off draw:
(C) = Choice of Ground
Brazil v Poland (C)
Great Britain v Mexico (C)
Canada v Serbia (C)
Latvia (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
Japan (C) v Ukraine
Romania (C) v Italy
Kazakhstan v Argentina (C)
Netherlands (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
Former Tennis Star Robin Soderling Appointed Davis Cup Captain
The former world No.4 is hoping to make waves in the team competition.
Robin Sodering has taken on a new role in the world of tennis after being appointed the captain of the Swedish Davis Cup team on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old takes over from Johan Hedsberg, who has held the role since January 2017. Soderling is a former world No.4 player and the last player from his country to contest a grand slam final at the 2010 French Open. After winning 10 ATP titles, his career came to an abrupt end after he failed to recover from a long-term illness. Soderling was hit by mononucleosis in 2011, a viral illness also known as glandular fever. He spent four years away from the tour before officially retiring in 2015.
“Being able to lead the best players in the country is an honour, so it was a pretty easy decision.” He told tennis.se.
“I have not thought about this, but when the question came, I immediately felt that I wanted to do this. I want it to go well for Swedish tennis.”
Sweden has won the Davis Cup seven times with their most recent triumph occurring back in 1998. They are currently playing in Group I of the Europe/Africa zone. This season the team managed to reach the World Group playoffs, but suffered a 4-0 defeat to Colombia. Sweden last played in the top tier of the competition back in 2012.
Soderling had been working with Elias Ymer, who is currently ranked 176th in the world. He is the brother of world No.76 Mikael Ymer, who is Sweden’s top men’s player. The reason for the end of their collaboration was because Soderling wanted to spend more time with his family. He is married with two children under the age of 10.
“I worked with Elias Ymer for a year and thought it was fun and educational. It was as close as you can get to your own career when playing yourself.” He said.
“But it became too much for me with over 30 trips a year. It didn’t work with my family situation. Maybe I listened too much to “Fidde” (Fredrik Rosengren) who said he had not seen his children in 25 years. I wasn’t prepared for that. I received questions after the assignment with Elias but declined no.’
“This assignment as the Davis Cup captain does not mean as many trips and given that I like tennis overall and above all Swedish tennis, the choice was easy.”
Soderling’s first test will be in March when his country takes on Chile on home soil. A team who has two top 100 players in singles. The winner will be moved into the 18-team Davis Cup finals, which was launched for the first time this year.
“Sweden has certainly not been favourites in all those matches. They have done really well.” He stated.
“If you look at the (Swedish) team, we have a good team with Mikael and Elias Ymer even though we are not super wide overall compared to many other countries that have several players in the top 100. But we are competitive and actually play for a place in Madrid against the world best team.”
During his playing career, Soderling played in 10 Davis Cup ties and won 14 out of 18 matches.
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