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‘Make Him Call Me Mr. Son of a B***h’ – ‘Superbrat’ John McEnroe’s Wild Rant Found a Dangerous Match in Ille Nastase in a Violent US Open Tale from 1979

The history of tennis is rife with intense drama and entertainment. However, rarely can a match entertain the audience more than the one that took place on August 30, 1979. John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase were ready to play against each other in the US Open. But no one could’ve expected how the match would proceed and conclude. The second round of the US Open in 1979 would be filled with drama, rage, controversial antics and even a default. Recent fans of tennis won’t be able to predict how the story will advance and end. The rivalry was a heated one, as McEnroe did not like Nastase during the early years of his career.

 

 

When Ilie Nastase and John McEnroe gave the New York crowd a match to remember
John McEnroe, 20, and Ilie Nastase, 33, were both controversial figures going into the match. The night session at the US Open was still a new construct, and fans were ready to kick back after a hard day at work. Nastase, often called ‘Nasty’, was ready to give them their money’s worth. 13 years younger, the Superbrat was the favorite to win the match, but the Romanian player wasn’t set on losing easily.

 

 

In 2019, Nastase revealed to the New York Times that he wasn’t at his best level of fitness. Therefore, to beat McEnroe, he was ready to pull out all the stops. Acting as a caricature of his opponent, Nastase would throw doubts on line calls and even complain to the umpire. He would complain about the aircraft flying over the stadium and ask if the umpire could do something about them. McEnroe, understandably unhappy, barely held himself back. However, he let it loose once and called his opponent a “Son of a b**ch“. In retaliation, Nastase told the umpire, “Make him call me Mr. Son of a b**ch“. After 3 sets played, the drama was at an all-time high, but the score was in McEnroe’s favor. The Romanian player decided to stall, which led to serious consequences.

 

 

Nastase’s antics proved to be too much for the chair umpire
Ilie Nastase felt that McEnroe was taking too long to serve and lied down on the court. The umpire was not happy with Nastase, as he had already received a penalty. Now, he decided to dock him a game. The Romanian player did not accept the decision and decided to argue with the umpire, and the crowd joined him. Many even threw empty cans on the court. Eventually, Mark Hammond, the chair umpire, decided to default Nastase, which made the crowd even more aggressive. The slightly drunk spectators broke out into a fight, and the stadium became a circus. Bill Talbert, tournament director, decided to step in and reinstate the Romanian player. He also changed the umpire for the match.

 

 

As it resumed in the fourth set, McEnroe was quick to defeat Nastase and win the second round. After the match, McEnroe was fuming and decided to speak his mind against his opponent.
“I did want to punch him in the mouth because I felt like he had made a mockery of the whole match,” McEnroe said. “Just as I was about to lace into him, he said to me, “Hey MacAroni — he called me that — where are we going to dinner?” And all of a sudden, it went from, I’m going to wring this guy’s neck to heading out together for a late night at Patrick’s Pub in Little Neck.“

After the match, there was no bad blood between the two players. McEnroe would also go on to win the first slam of his career that year and become the world no.2. The match would go down as one with the most entertaining encounters in history, albeit being highly controversial as well.

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