Nastase's tirade forces suspension of Romania Fed Cup match

CONSTANTA, Romania (AP) Romania Fed Cup captain Ilie Nastase was thrown out of the venue hosting Saturday's World Group II playoff against Britain after abusive comments led to the playoff being suspended.

With Britain's Johanna Konta leading Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 1-2, Nastase became embroiled in a row apparently about noise from the crowd. The 70-year-old former top-ranked Nastase was heard to hurl expletives at Konta, Britain captain Anne Keothavong and the umpire.

Nastase was sent off the court by referee Andreas Egli and, after taking a seat in the stands, was then escorted back to the locker room.

The International Tennis Federation said Egli asked Nastase to leave the court ''for unsportsmanlike conduct, having already received two official warnings. Mr. Nastase was also removed from the grounds due to his serious misconduct.'' Nastase's accreditation was removed and the ITF said ''he will play no further part in the tie.''

The federation had already launched an investigation into racially offensive comments apparently made Friday by Nastase about Serena Williams' pregnancy.

In a separate incident on Saturday, Britain's Press Association said journalist Eleanor Crooks was verbally insulted by Nastase for reporting his comments about Williams. Nastase told Crooks: ''Why did you write that? You're stupid, you're stupid.''

The tirade went on for more than two minutes, the news agency said.

''He repeatedly called me stupid, asked me why what he said was racist,'' Crooks said. ''I explained we simply reported what he said and that it was unnecessary to make such a comment about color. He said the English were out to get him and called me stupid a few more times.

''Fortunately he was across the other side of the room from me and there were other journalists around so it was unpleasant rather than threatening. But it is certainly not the behavior you would expect of someone in his position and wholly unnecessary, especially given he did not dispute the accuracy of what was reported.''

The match between Konta and Cirstea eventually resumed, with the British player winning five games in succession to record a 6-2, 6-3 victory and level the playoff at 1-1.

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