Rafael Nadal took to Twitter to pay tribute to Spanish tennis legend Manolo Santana following the latter’s death at the age of 83 on Saturday. The Spaniard thanked his compatriot for paving the way for many tennis players from his country.
“I have just received the terrible news of the passing of our great Manolo Santana,” Nadal wrote. “As I have said many times in the past: thank you so much for what you did for our country and for marking the path of so many.”
The 35-year-old added that he always considered Santana a friend.
“You were always a reference, a friend and a person close to everyone,” Nadal said. “We will miss you Manolo; you will always be unique and special. Greetings to your family and a lot of strength at this time. We will never forget you.”
Santana was one of the most successful tennis players in Spain’s history. He won five Grand Slam titles: Wimbledon in 1966, the US Open in 1965, and the French Open in 1961 and 1964. He was ranked as the top men’s player by journalists back in 1965 and 1966. He also won the gold medal at the 1968 Mexico Olympics for Spain.
Rafael Nadal was not the only player to pay tribute to Santana following the news of his demise. Two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 Simona Halep also took to Twitter to mourn the loss of a “tennis legend” and “kind man.”
“We lost a tennis legend and a great, kind man today. Rest In Peace Manolo Santana,” she wrote.
Rafael Nadal to return to action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
Rafael Nadal has been sidelined since July due to a chronic foot injury that flared up during his semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.
The 35-year-old will return to the courts next week at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, where he will play Dominic Thiem or Andy Murray in the semifinals.
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The Spaniard will then shift his focus to the Australian Open, where he will aim to take the lead in the all-time Grand Slam race. Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are currently tied at 20 Majors each.