PARIS (AP) — The king of Spain has abdicated his throne, and the "King of Clay" wants to say thanks for everything.
King Juan Carlos announced Monday he will step down in favor of his son. A few hours later, Rafael Nadal won his record 63rd match at the French Open to reach the quarterfinals for the ninth time in 10 years.
"Well, we were very surprised by this announcement," Nadal said through a translator. "The only thing I can do is to thank his majesty, the king, for everything he did all these years.
"He was a wonderful person, a great representative of our country everywhere in the world, and Spain should thank him for everything he did during his reign. I just want to thank him for everything he did for my country."
The king, who turned 76 in January, said Monday in a nationwide address that 46-year-old Crown Prince Felipe is ready to succeed him and will "open a new era of hope."
"I think this will be a good successor to our king, our supreme leader for so many years," Nadal said. "He would be the perfect person because he's very close to the people. He's been preparing to become the king for quite a long time."
Nadal has won a record eight French Open titles and holds a 63-1 record at Roland Garros. On Monday, he beat Dusan Ljovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
The top-seeded Nadal's next opponent will be another Spaniard, fifth-seeded David Ferrer. He defeated 19th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1.
Ferrer had less to say about the king's announcement.
"It's not my decision," he said in English with a laugh. "It's OK, no? I'm OK. I don't have any problem about the kingdom."
But Nadal was much more effusive in his praise of the king, a man he has met on many occasions over the years.
"On a personal note, he was always very nice to me, very warm. He made me feel very comfortable each time we met," Nadal said. "So I feel honored. I had the opportunity of meeting him, and I wish him the best for the future, for whatever he decides to do for the future."