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Serena Williams

Nastase exclusive: how to intimidate your opponent


Ilie Nastase’s tips on how to intimidate your opponent:

From the fun stuff like walking around the courts at Wimbledon with an umbrella to the more serious stuff, like throwing a shoe at a line judge who called foot-faults against him and even mooning a referee, life was never dull when Ilie Nastase or “Nasty” was around.

The Code of Conduct was practically invented for him and though John McEnroe may have taken things to a new level later on, Nastase was the original wild child and was once even defaulted in a match against McEnroe at the US Open in 1979, before being reinstated as officials feared a riot. Among his other nicknames were: “The Ugly Romanian”, “The Bucharest Buffoon” and “The Mad Man of Bucharest”.

Those kind of on-court antics would seem to be long gone but when The Tennis Space caught up with Nastase recently, the Romanian kindly offered a few tips for those players for whom tennis alone may not be good enough to beat the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Be smart about it.
“Now you have 25 seconds between points whereas the lack of rules when I played permitted me to do things like run around the court three times. Can you imagine?! Now they wouldn’t permit me to do that or anyone else to do it. You would have to be smart about it and do delaying tactics within the 25 seconds or you will get a penalty point.”

Pick your opponents wisely.
“All the guys who complained against me, the ones I beat through intimidation, were lousy players. (Bjorn) Borg never complained like that, he just beat me. (Stan) Smith, the same. Once you complain that somebody bothers you, it’s all over inside.”

Only do it if you can back it up on court.
“You can’t win just through intimidation, I don’t think. That’s impossible. You have to have talent. Also you have to be very strong mentally because you have to be able to play the points as well. You cannot just look at an opponent and stop him, for example. That was working maybe 30 years ago when I was playing, but now it doesn’t work like that. You have to be good enough to win with your tennis as well.”