A few days before the second anniversary of his victory in the US OPEN Junior, the ATP website has published this article about Daniel Rincón's progression in the circuit:


Remember the name Daniel Rincon.


For tennis fans that are tuned into junior Slam results, they will already be familiar with Rincon, who won the 2021 US Open boys’ singles title. Now the 20-year-old is rising on the ATP Challenger Tour, having reached four semi-finals in his past six events.


Three months before Rincon won the junior crown at Flushing Meadows, he was walking across the stage at the Rafa Nadal Academy as a graduate of the 2021 class. Throughout his time in Mallorca, Rincon soaked in valuable lessons, perhaps no experience more memorable than training with fellow lefty, 22-time major champion Nadal.



“He gives a lot of importance to footwork, going in and back the whole time, not just staying in the same place,” Rincon told the ATP Challenger Tour media team last week. “I think during the four, five years that I got the chance to practice with him being at the academy, that's the most important thing that he says to me almost every day, so I take it very seriously and I try to improve it a lot.


“It’s great that the academy brings the players this opportunity. Playing with one of the greatest of all time is such an advantage and I tried to take the most out of it every day. He’s such a good guy, such a nice person and he always tries to help all the players. He gave me so many tips during practices when we go to drink water. We talk about my game, what I should develop and improve. It's Rafa, so I tried to take the most out of it.”


While at the Academy, Rincon would also find time to enjoy golfing around the Spanish island, stating, “I tried to go with my friends almost every weekend we can.” When asked who would win between him and Nadal in golf, Rincon cracked a laugh, “Rafa for sure.”

Rincon is just the latest star from the Nadal Academy to be making waves on the Challenger circuit. His roommate at 'RNA', 19-year-old Abdullah Shelbayh, last year became the first player from Jordan to win a match in Challenger history at the Mallorca Challenger. In February, Shelbayh became the youngest Arab to reach a Challenger final in Manama. The two left-handers, who often partner in doubles, are climbing the Pepperstone ATP Rankings together.


Since the start of July, Rincon has won 15 of 22 Challenger matches, including a semi-final run last week at the Rafa Nadal Open by Movistar, which is held at the luxurious academy. At a career-high No. 198 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, the Madrid native hopes this is a sign of things to come.



“I started having a really good summer, I reached three semi-finals in a row. Then another quarter-finals. And Mallorca [was] my fifth quarter,” Rincon said. “It's been an amazing summer and I hope to continue this way.


“Playing challengers is a big difference to the ITF and junior level. Players are better and it also shows when you have to practice with them. I think it also helped a lot in my development. Because maybe you finish a tournament, you lost in the first round, you still get the chance to practise with great players. Also they give you a lot of facilities to practice, where other circuits you don't have many chances. So it's great for the players and for our practices.”



*Article published in ATPTOUR.COM

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