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Nadal Pays Tribute To Samaranch

Nadal at Samaranch's funeral.© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal serves as a pall bearer at Samaranch's funeral Thursday in Barcelona.

Former ATP World Tour No. 1 Rafael Nadal has paid tribute to Juan Antonio Samaranch after the former International Olympic Committee president died of cardiac arrest Wednesday. Just days before his passing, 89-year-old Samaranch had watched on television countryman Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

In a statement on his web site, Nadal said: “It’s a very sad day for Sports because Juan Antonio was sports; he was one of the most important figures in Spanish sport as well as worldwide.

“He was always very special to all athletes, and I can say this because personally, he was always very close and nice to me. He was a kind person who always showed me a lot of sympathy and support. It is a great loss and we will miss him.”

Nadal returned to Barcelona today to serve as a pall bearer at Samaranch’s funeral.

The Associated Press reported that Samaranch’s health deteriorated shortly after watching the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final on TV.  "He watched Nadal's match - he loved tennis - and after the game he wasn't feeling great so we decided to come (to the hospital) around 6 or 7 at night,” his son, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., told the Associated Press. “Then he collapsed. They stabilised him but he never came out. And that was the last time he was conscious."

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