Monday, December 19, 2011

Players to Watch in 2012: Taro Daniel (’93)

This is one of the most interesting up and coming players in the tour. He was born in New York, trains in Valencia (Spain) but represents Japan in the tour. On top of that, he stands at 1.88 meters, an anomaly for a Japanese player. He started 2011 as the 20th best player in ITF and at 978 in the ATP ranking. He focused almost entirely on his professional career, playing just a single ITF tournament all year.

Daniel did not choose the easy route towards the top. To begin with, he played most of his tournaments in Spain. The Spanish futures are considered the harshest in the world because of the local talent and because many players from around the world choose Spain for their development. On top of that, these tournaments have 128-player qualyfing draws, meaning that a player must win 4 matches just to make it into the main draw, and advance at least 1 round to earn ATP points.
This guy can be considered a warrior of the futures. He only received 1 wild card all year, so he had to build his ranking the hard way. He went 30-0 in qualifiers, never failing to make the main draw. On top of that he went 41-27 in main draw action, therefore driving his total number of matches in 2011 passed the 100 mark. Daniel advanced all the way to the 467th spot in the ranking, thanks in part to 2 finals appearances.

In 2012, Daniel will have direct access to futures main draws, allowing him to virtually play more matches and use his fitness towards shooting up the rankings. I see him cracking the top 300 by the end of this upcoming season.

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