University of the Balearic Islands, or UIB, president Llorenç Huguet said Tuesday it was a shame that opposition by members of the university community had led to Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal deciding to turn down an honorary from the institution.

The world No. 1 told the UIB Monday that he did not wish to receive the honor because he wanted to avoid having the controversy affect the higher education institution.

"It's interesting that while we make war on him here, the city of Paris has given him the gold keys," Huguet said in a press conference, adding that "he is a person who is more than deserving" of an honorary doctorate.

Huguet said criticism about the procedures followed in granting the degree to the 27-year-old tennis star from the city of Manacor really "masked" the real reason opponents did not want him to receive the honor.

The UIB president, however, declined to comment further on why there was opposition to Nadal being honored with the doctorate.

"We think and continue to think that he is Mallorca's best ambassador to the world," and deserves that the UIB recognize both his accomplishments and the values he represents, Huguet said.

Nadal, a 13-time Grand Slam champion who has won a record eight French Open titles, was born and makes his home in Manacor, a town on the Balearic Island of Mallorca.

The Spanish tennis star notified the UIB in a brief letter on Monday that he would not accept the honorary degree and thanked the university for having considered him for the honor. EFE