The 10 Best Romanian Tennis Players of All-Time

Romania has produced a considerable number of great tennis players. Some of these played in the past. In contrast, others are active in the present.

As such, it seems safe to say that Romania has a thriving tennis scene because it is hard to imagine how it could have produced these tennis players otherwise.

According to Romania Journal and other sources, here are 10 of the best Romanian tennis players ever:

10. Monica Niculescu

Monica Niculescu turned pro in 2002. Since then, she has won three singles titles and ten doubles titles. Thanks to these, it is no exaggeration to say that Niculescu has proven herself to be one of the best tennis players in the world, even though she can’t claim to be one of the top international superstars. At her peak, Niculescu was number 28 for singles and number 11 for doubles.

9. Irina-Camelia Begu

Irina-Camelia Begu turned pro a bit later than Niculescu in 2005. Her singles performance has been better, while her doubles performance has been a bit weaker. Specifically, Begu has won five singles titles and nine doubles titles. Amusingly, her peak ranking is 22 for singles and doubles, which is a fun coincidence.

8. Sorana Cirstea

Sorana Cirstea is another Romanian tennis player who started playing professionally at around the same time. She hasn’t managed to win as many singles titles as Begu. Despite this, she has managed to do well in other respects, which is why she peaked at number 21 for singles in August 2013. Her peak doubles ranking is lower at number 35, which is presumably connected to how she has only won five doubles titles.

7. Ruxandra Dragomir

Ruxandra Dragomir belonged to an earlier cohort of tennis players. That is because she was a professional tennis player from 1990 to 2005, meaning her time was coming to a close by the start of the aforementioned players’ careers. Regardless, she won 11 singles titles and 13 doubles titles. Those victories enabled Dragomir to climb to number 15 for singles and number 21 for doubles.

6. Andrei Pavel

Andrei Pavel is another tennis player from an earlier era. His career went from 1995 to 2009. During that time, Pavel rose as high as number 13 for singles, even though he won a total of three singles titles.

Meanwhile, he peaked at number 13 for doubles through six doubles titles. It should be mentioned that Pavel has managed to do quite well as a tennis coach after retiring from being a tennis player. He has coached several professional tennis players. Moreover, he was the coach for the Romanian tennis team at the 2016 Olympics.

5. Ion Tiriac

Ion Tiriac played from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Marketability is based on more than pure numbers. In Tiriac’s case, the International Tennis Hall of Fame says he leaned into his nickname of Count Dracula, which played a part in his managing to amass $2 billion in assets. That said, Tiriac’s numbers weren’t bad.

He never won a Grand Slam singles title, though he managed to claw his way to the number 19 position anyway. However, that makes sense because he was more of a doubles specialist.

There, he made it to the number 8 position because of a Grand Slam doubles title and other victories. On top of these things, Tiriac also played ice hockey. Indeed, he was a member of Romania’s ice hockey team at the 1964 Olympics.

4. Horia Tecau

Horia Tecau was even more of a doubles specialist. One can make a case for his singles record being either impressive or unimpressive. On the one hand, number 326 in the world means he is one of the best tennis players in the world; on the other hand, the cutoff point for the tennis players most people care about is much higher than that.

Tecau was a much more formidable doubles player. In November 2015, he peaked at number 2, meaning he just missed out on the honor of being the best in the world in this regard.

This was possible because he won 38 doubles titles, which included a couple of Grand Slam doubles titles. Moreover, Tecau can boast of having a Grand Slam mixed doubles title as well, courtesy of the Australian Open in 2012.

3. Virginia Ruzici

Virginia Ruzici competed from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. She won 12 singles titles, which were enough to make her the number 8 player in the world. Similarly, her doubles performance was also impressive because she peaked at the number 12 position. Ruzici won a Grand Slam singles title and a Grand Slam doubles title.

On top of this, she is known to have been a source of inspiration for others. In particular, The New York Times and other sources report that Richard Williams decided to teach his daughters Venus and Serena Williams to play tennis after seeing Ruzici’s performance at a tournament in Salt Lake City.

2. Simona Halep

Speaking of which, Ruzici is also connected to Simona Halep because she is the latter’s manager. It is no exaggeration to say that Halep is the single greatest female tennis player to emerge from Romania thus far. That is because she reached the number 1 position in October 2017, made possible by 24 singles titles.

Out of those titles, two have been Grand Slam singles titles. One was the French Open in 2018, while the other was Wimbledon in 2019. Halep’s performance as a doubles player hasn’t been quite as good. Still, she did manage to peak at the number 71 position back in May 2017.

1. Ilie Nastase

If Halep is the greatest female tennis player from Romania, Ilie Nastase is the greatest male tennis player from the country. He was an extremely formidable figure in the professional tennis scene of the 1970s.

For example, he was number one in the world from late August 1973 to early June 1974. Similarly, he won seven Grand Slam titles in that decade, which consisted of two singles titles, three doubles titles, and two mixed doubles titles.

Nastase was even the first person to sign a Nike endorsement contract in 1972, which was a notable historical event for other reasons. Few people can claim to be true legends of their sport. Nastase is one of them.

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