'Pioneers of tennis': Rafael Nadal reacts to 'sad' death of tennis great

Andres Gimeno and Rafael Nadal in 2011. (Photo by Europa Press News/Europa Press via Getty Images)

Andres Gimeno, the Spanish tennis player who became the oldest man to win the French Open in the professional era, has died. He was 82.

The Spanish tennis federation says Gimeno died Wednesday following a long illness.

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Gimeno was 34 years and 301 days old when he won the French Open in 1972, beating Patrick Proisy in the final.

He had made the Australian Open final three years earlier but lost to Rod Laver.

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Andres Gimeno in 1970. (Photo by Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal leads the tributes

Nineteen times grand slam champion Rafael Nadal was among those to pay tribute to Gimeno.

"I've just been given the sad news of the death of Andres Gimeno, who was without doubt one of the pioneers of tennis in Spain," Nadal wrote on Twitter.

"I send my condolences to his family. RIP."

Others from around the tennis world also paid tribute.