Daniel Rincon with the 2021 US Open boys singles trophy
2021 US Open junior champion Daniel Rincon is a member of Rafael Nadal‘s academy in Mallorca. The 17-year-old defeated top seed Shang Juncheng in the final earlier this month, becoming the first Spanish boys’ champion in New York since 1986.
Speaking with Eurosport following his landmark victory, Daniel Rincon highlighted how important the influence of Rafael Nadal has been on his growth as an athlete. The Spaniard asserted that development is not only about what you do, but also whom you surround yourself with
“Of course,” Rincon replied when asked if having Rafael Nadal close to him had helped. “It is not only the things that they say to you, it also has a lot to do with who tells you and how they say it to you.””Having Rafa so close, sometimes even behind me in training, is a great influence,” he added. “Part of the improvement I have had in recent years has been thanks to him and his environment.”
Daniel Rincon further went on to point out that Rafael Nadal’s uncle Toni has also been a great influence in his career so far. Rincon revealed how Toni always stresses on the importance of not letting success get to your head, particularly after a big triumph like the one the teenager has just had.
“Just this morning I was talking to Toni and he has insisted a lot with that,” Rincon said. “He told me that we had done very well, but that now the professional circuit begins, where I am still no one. You have to climb little by little and fight to become a professional.”
“Suddenly, having him in front of you and seeing him for real was shocking” – Daniel Rincon talks on his first meeting with Rafael Nadal
During the course of the interview, Daniel Rincon recalled how he was left starstruck by Rafael Nadal the first few times he met him. Rincon also asserted that he is as happy and excited to spend time with the 20-time Grand Slam champion today as he was when they first met.
“The first few times were a bit tense, it’s true (laughs),” Rincon said. “In the end, Rafa is someone who had many times on television winning Roland Garros and winning other Grand Slams.””Suddenly, having him in front of you and seeing him for real was shocking,” he added. (But) I continue to enjoy the most every time I have him around, exactly like the first times.”
Daniel Rincon also revealed that Rafael Nadal was his idol growing up, and that the 35-year-old has given him the “most special congratulations” in his career so far.