Madrid, Oct 10 (AFP/APP):Andres Gimeno, the oldest male French Open champion in the Open era, has died at the age of 82, the Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) announced on Wednesday.
Gimeno’s biggest achievement was winning Roland Garros aged 34 in 1972 but he also reached the Australian Open final in 1969 and the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1970.
“One of the iconic figures of Spanish tennis, Andres Gimeno, died on Wednesday in Barcelona at the age of 82 after a long illness,” read a statement from the RFET.
“The Royal Spanish Tennis Federation wants to express its condolences to both his family and relatives.”
World number two Rafael Nadal, a 12-time Roland Garros champion, wrote on Twitter that Gimeno had been a “pioneer” for the sport in Spain.
“I have just been told the sad news of the death of #AndresGimeno,” Nadal wrote. “Without doubt one of the pioneers of tennis in Spain and a great athlete. Heartfelt condolences to his family. RIP.”
Gimeno won 44 career titles and represented Spain at the Davis Cup from 1958 to 1960 and 1972 to 1973. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.
Former Wimbledon and US Open champion Stan Smith described Gimeno as “a tireless competitor”.
“Having faced him in some big matches, I can vouch for that. Mostly, I’ll remember Andres as a really good guy,” said Smith, now the president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
“Whether you lost to him or you beat him, it was hard not to like Andres.”