Paris: Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal hailed King Juan Carlos as "wonderful" on Monday after the monarch decided to abdicate.
The 76-year-old Juan Carlos, crowned in November 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco, said he wanted to hand over to "a younger generation" after several turbulent years in Spain.
His son Prince Felipe will take over the crown.
"We were very surprised with the announcement that the king was abdicating. All I can do is to thank him for all he did for Spain over the years," said Nadal after reaching the French Open quarter-finals in Paris on Monday.
"He is a wonderful person who was a great representative of our country and Spain should thank him."
Nadal, a record eight-time winner of the French Open, added: "I had the opportunity to meet him on quite a few occasions. He was always very nice and warm towards me. He made me feel very comfortable every time we met.
"I wish him the best for the future. You cannot ask for more for a person who has done so much."
Nadal`s fellow Spaniard, David Ferrer said the decision to abdicate was the right one.
"Any story has an end. I think that his son has been prepared in advance," said the 32-year-old from Valencia.
"A monarchy is pivotal in our country. Regarding my personal opinion about the monarchy, I will keep it for me.
"But the decision made by the king was the right one. Life goes on. So I wish him plenty of luck, because he`s retiring. He will be more tranquil now."