Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac are two of Romania’s biggest tennis heroes, and the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy is named in their honour.
Part of the ATP 250 series, the outdoor clay court tournament has become a popular stop for players aiming to find their best tennis ahead of the French Open.
Romania gained worldwide attention as a tennis-playing nation in the 1960s, when Ion Tiriac reached the latter stages of Wimbledon and the French Open. In 1970, he teamed up with compatriot Ilie Nastase to win the Roland Garros doubles title.
As Nastase rose to prominence as a singles player, Romania became a major force in the Davis Cup throughout the 1970s. The temperamental but extraordinarily gifted Nastase went on to win two Grand Slams, inspiring many of his countrymen to pick up a racket. Although no Romanian player has matched his achievements since, tennis has remained popular in the Eastern European country, and continues to be served well by its high-profile ambassadors.
Bucharest, Romania’s capital, attained the rights to hold an ATP event in 1993. Initially, the tournament was held in September after the US Open, but in 2012 it switched dates to April, thereby becoming a key tune-up event for the second Grand Slam of the year. The venue for the competition, the BNR Arenas, seats up to 5000 spectators.
Former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic was the inaugural champion in Bucharest; he was also runner-up in 1994. Clay court legend Thomas Muster triumphed in 1995, the year he won the French Open. Also on the roll of honour are David Ferrer, Jurgen Melzer and Juan Ignacio Chela.
However, only one man has ever lifted the trophy multiple times in Bucharest: Gilles Simon. The Frenchman upset the home fans by beating Victor Hanescu in 2007, defended his title the following year with an impressive straight sets defeat of Carlos Moya, and was victorious again in 2012.
- No Romanian has won a singles title in Bucharest, but the 1998 doubles final featured four players from the host country. Andrei Pavel and Gabriel Trifu beat compatriots George Cosac and Dinu Pescariu to take the title.
- There have been only three three-set finals in the history of the tournament.
- The most successful nation at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy is Spain. Spanish players have won the title on seven occasions.
- In 2012, John McEnroe teamed up with Mansour Bahrami to play an exhibition doubles match with Ilie Nastase and Andrei Pavel.