Former World No. 1 Ilie Nastase believes that while the evolution of tennis over the past four decades has made the sport more professional, it has also become more restrictive for the players and therefore, less entertaining for the fans. The Romanian, who rose to fame with his remarkable talent and flamboyant behaviour, says that players are now surrounded by managers, agents, trainers and coaches, which creates a more restrictive environment.
“Thirty or forty years ago, you can’t compare that to the coaches players have today, the managers, they have nutritionists now. It’s more professional for sure, it’s more physical, but it’s not fair to compare,” Nastase told Sport360. “The only thing I can say is that I had a great time in my time and I hope they feel the same way now. But at the time that’s what I felt I could do, entertaining the crowd, but probably now it would be impossible to do what I did then.
Probably there’ll be more money in the sport in the future and players might get even more serious. If people are offering the money, the players will play, what can you do? You can’t refuse the money.”
The one-time US Open champion also discussed British No. 1 Andy Murray, who has been recovering from back surgery since September. Nastase is a fan of the 26-year-old and his game, stating that he has intuition and a natural talent that makes him entertaining to watch. He also mentioned that he sees Murray as a viable threat to top seeds Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic come 2014.
“Murray is there. He’s the only one probably who has beaten both (Nadal and Djokovic). He’s a good player. I like him because he places himself before the ball comes to him, he plays with a lot of intuition, so he’s playing easy, he doesn’t look like he’s putting an effort when he plays. That’s the kind of player I like. Before, I used to like Martina Hingis very much, and Roger Federer, they know how to place themselves before the ball comes.”