Belfast Telegraph

Simple for Konta and Watson on the day Nastase has fine doubled


By Steve Simpson

Victories for Johanna Konta and Heather Watson gave Great Britain a convincing start to their Fed Cup campaign with a dominant win against Portugal in Tallinn.

Watson got off to a shaky start against 17-year-old Francisca Jorge, trailing 3-1, but recovered to win 6-4 6-2 while Konta needed just 49 minutes to defeat Maria Joao Koehler 6-1 6-0.

The tie came on the same day that the result of Ilie Nastase's appeal was announced following his shocking conduct during last April's World Group II play-off against Romania.

This included making a racially insensitive remark about Serena Williams' then-unborn baby, inappropriate behaviour towards GB captain Anne Keothavong and verbally abusing Keothavong, Konta and match officials.

The 71-year-old was initially banned from attending any ITF events until the end of 2018 and from holding any official positions until the end of 2020. The end dates of his punishments have been changed to April 23, 2018 and April 23, 2020 on appeal. But Nastase's fine has been increased from $10,000 to $20,000 (£14,400).

After being informed he was being investigated by the ITF over his conduct, Nastase confronted reporter Eleanor Crooks and repeatedly called her stupid in a tirade in the press room.

Nastase's most serious offence occurred on the court during the second rubber of the tie, when he swore repeatedly at umpire Jaume Campistol and referee Andreas Egli before calling Keothavong and Konta "f*****g bitches".

His behaviour somewhat overshadowed Britain's defeat, which condemned the side to another year in the Europe/Africa Zone.

Keothavong's team must top their round-robin group and then win a play-off on Saturday to give themselves another shot of getting into World Group II.

The crunch match is likely to come on Friday when they take on hosts Estonia, who boast two top-70 players in Anett Kontaveit and Kaia Kanepi.

Belfast Telegraph


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