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Spanish tennis 'pioneer' Andrés Gimeno dies aged 82
By thinkSPAIN Team Thu, Oct 10, 2019
SPAIN'S oldest-ever Roland Garros champion Andrés Gimeno has died at the age
of 82 after battling cancer for many years.
The Barcelona-born star was 34 when he won the French Open, setting a world age record which even the tournament's historic 12-times winner Rafa Nadal has not yet broken – being 33 when he won it for the third year on the trot this year – and was arguably the most-followed Spaniard in tennis in the 1970s.
Gimeno's four-set win in 1972 against home-grown finalist Patrick Proisy came three years after he made it to the final of the Australian Open after beating the legendary Rod Laver.
Nadal himself was one of the first celebrities to offer his condolences via social media, with a tweet which read: “I've just been told the sad news about the passing of #AndresGimeno. Without doubt one of the pioneers in tennis in Spain and a great sportsman. My heartfelt wishes to his family. RIP.”
Chairman of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE), Alejandro Blanco, tweeted the organisation's 'pain' at the death of 'an historic figure' in the country's tennis history, also referring to him as a 'pioneer', and one who 'made Spanish sport bigger and better with achievements like his 1972 Roland Garros title', something that 'inspired future generations'.
Rafael Nadal is among these 'future generations', having first won the French Open in 2005 and only failing to defend his title three times since, in 2009 – when he won the Australian Open for the only time so far in his career – and in 2015 and 2016.
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