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THAT RUMANIAN BLACK MAGIC
Joe Jares
December 17, 1973
Ilie Nastase carried a burden to Boston for the Commercial Union Masters tournament: his wife, his mother-in-law, his fiery temperament and top seeding. He left with a heavier bundle—of money
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December 17, 1973

That Rumanian Black Magic

Ilie Nastase carried a burden to Boston for the Commercial Union Masters tournament: his wife, his mother-in-law, his fiery temperament and top seeding. He left with a heavier bundle—of money

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Kodes, perhaps aided by the slow Mateflex surface brought in from France, won the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and had his subsequent press conference interrupted by a playful, un-nasty Nasty:

"Can I ask a question please? Why you not win in two sets? You help a friend, I know that.... Kodes, you're on caviar tonight. You are my guest."

The rest was fairly smooth sailing for Nastase, who all of a sudden thought the Boston fans were delightful. He had beaten Connors nine out of 10 times and continued that dominance in the semis, leading Jimmy to say, "He's the guy who comes up with the great shots at the right time. The ball just sped by me, as it usually does when I play him. Ilie moves better than almost anybody I play."

The Okker-Nastase final was not quite as good natured. Okker was sour and surly over what he thought were bad calls and Nasty hit a ball—not very hard—at a service linesman, drawing an immediate announcement of a $100 fine from Jack Kramer, chief executive officer of the Association of Tennis Professionals, who was doing the color commentary on TV. But Nastase completed his comeback and won in four sets, serving nicely, putting all sorts of spin on his ground strokes and even coming through with a behind-the-back volley.

And how did Nastase feel about his third straight Masters trophy, probable No. 1 ranking on most of the world lists and $228,750 in 1973 winnings?

"I'm not feel that bad," he said with a grin. "Can be even better next year, I am hoping."

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