Beijing: Spain`s world number one Rafael Nadal said on Monday he was stunned and felt like crying following a banned independence referendum in Catalonia and a police crackdown.
Sunday`s plebiscite was organised under the threat of reprisals and criminal charges but thousands of Catalans stood in defiance of the central government in Madrid.
Nadal, a national hero in Spain who spoke out before the referendum to condemn it, was visibly moved as he addressed a press conference in Beijing, where he starts his assault on the China Open on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old, who grew up and lives on the Balearic island of Mallorca but is also a Catalan speaker, said he had watched events of the weekend unfold "with concern and sadness".
Dozens of people were injured and Nadal said: "I want to cry when I see a country where we have known how to co-exist and be a good example to the rest of the world get to a situation like this.
"I think the image we have presented to the world is negative."
The 16-time Grand Slam winner added: "It was a sad moment, my heart sank all day.
"Moreover, from here, at a distance, you experience it differently.
"I have spent many parts of my life in Catalonia, important moments, and to see society so radicalised surprises and disheartens me."
Catalonia`s leader Carles Puigdemont says the region has won the right to break away from Spain after 90 percent of voters chose independence.