Daniel Credits International Flair With Top 100 Rise
A strong 2015 on the ATP Challenger Tour has provided the springboard to success for Taro Daniel
The upbringing that Taro Daniel had has made him truly international, but his success across the globe on the ATP Challenger Tour is what propelled him into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
The 23-year-old from Japan won his first ATP Challenger Tour title last spring at the $50,000 event in Vincenza, Italy, followed by another clay-court crown last June at the $50,000 tournament in Furth, Germany. Daniel also went on a tear last fall on home soil, winning on the hard courts of Yokohoma and finishing runner-up in Kobe.
Now competing full-time on the ATP World Tour, he hasn't slowed down in 2016, with his big moment coming at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last month. Daniel qualified for his first Masters 1000 main draw and reached the second round, before falling to Dominic Thiem in three sets.
After spending his formative years growing in Japan, Daniel’s family moved to Spain then he was 14 and he has since set up his training base in the city of Valencia. He credits his all-surface success with training in Spain, allowing him access to top players to practise with and the chance to hit regularly on clay courts.
“Spain has had the most players in the Top 100 and many people in the Top 10. The fact they play a lot on clay is important because if you can play on clay, you can play on any surface,” said Daniel. “That’s a positive for me because not a lot of Asian players get to practise regularly on it. I like hard courts as well, but can say that clay might be my favourite surface.”
Daniel’s rise up the rankings has also meant he has gotten to spend more time with World No. 6 Kei Nishikori. He made his Davis Cup debut for Japan last year against Colombia and teamed up with Nishikori once again to take on Great Britain this March.
“We’ve gotten a lot closer since Davis Cup. We all respect him a lot, but we have a relationship where we can talk to each other about close things,” said Daniel. “He’s definitely an inspiration, so you can only receive positive things from being around somebody like that for a week."
The 23-year-old’s affable nature means that he has developed plenty of close friendships with players on tour. Because he studied at American schools in Japan and has now lived in Spain for nearly a decade, he’s fluent in three languages and able to easily mingle with players from most nationalities.
“I have no problem communicating with the Japanese players,” said Daniel. “For me, it’s a little boring to hang out with only the Japanese players or only the Spanish players. I like that I get to go with one group and can move to another.”