By Ros Satar

  • Romanian Captain Ilie Nastase is barred from the rest of the tie verbal abuse of Tie Referee, British team leaving Konta in tears and the match suspended
  • Johanna Konta def. Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-3
  • Simona Halep def. Heather Watson 6-4 6-1
  • Romania 1-1 Great Britain, but pressure will build on the ITF to take strong action
CONSTANTA, ROMANIA – Romanian Team Captain Ilie Nastase launched the Fed Cup World Group II Play-off between Romania and Great Britain into total chaos after swearing at the tie referee, verbally abusing Anne Keothavong and Joanna Konta, before ranting at a British journalist.

 

Simona Halep def. Heather Watson 6-4 6-1

It was always going to be a tough ask for Heather Watson to get the first point on the board, but for much of the first set we saw glimpses of the form and tenacity that has won her three WTA International titles, and a spot within the Top 40.

Playing literally in from of her home crowd it looked like Simona Halep was feeling the pressure early on, but her most recent run in Miami saw her regain some confidence after an injury-marred start to the year. She took advantage of a loose game from Watson to break and seal the first set before dominating the second set to get the first point on the board.

 

Johanna Konta def. Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-3

British No. 1 Johanna Konta had been set to play Irina-Camelia Begu, who was withdrawn earlier in the morning due to a stiff neck, replaced by Sorana Cirstea who was on the card to partner Monica Niculescu in the final doubles rubber, should it be required.

It was a confident opening set from the Brit breaking the Romanian twice, and having to deflect three break points on her own serve, before wrapping up the first set.

It had all the makings of a good match as Konta pushed hard to get an early break, failing to convert on three chances, but calls out from the crowd in the midst of a rally had both Konta and Anne Keothavong complaining to the umpire.

A call was put out to the crowd to ask them to respect the players, but from there it all turned sour, as captured by the Tennis Correspondent for The Telegraph, Simon Briggs (@simonbriggs)

 


The outburst earned Nastase with an immediate removal from the court, with Konta visibly distressed and in tears at the end of the court, she was broken for Cirstea to lead 3-1 before being taken off court by Keothavong as the match was suspended.

Halep spoke to the crowd to ask them to behave, otherwise the team would be disqualified. After a lengthy delay, play resumed, but the crowd was subdued, and Cirstea (now with team-mate Niculescu on the bench alongside her).

While Twitter exploded, there were long debates behind the scenes before eventually the players came out to continue the second rubber. Konta, to her credit, reeled off the next five games in a row with the fight having completely gone out of Cirstea, but the talk will not be about which of these two nations will join the elite in the World Group tiers but how much longer Nastase can be expected to remain in his post as the Romanian captain.

As reported in The Telegraph, Nastase had already lashed out in the morning at Press Association’s Eleanor Crooks for her reporting of his comments both about the poor-taste comments about Serena Williams’ pregnancy and her capture of the moment he asked Keothavong for her room number, making for quite an uncomfortable photo-call.

 


Nastaste removed for the rest of the Fed Cup Tie, and the ITF have since released a formal statement regarding Nastase

 

The tie is scheduled to continue with Konta playing Halep in the first of the reverse singles, with play scheduled to start at 11am (9am BST).

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