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Good luck to Marcos Daniel in Chennai and Melbourne!
Marcos Daniel, 29 years-old, world ranked 96: Spiritually inspired
Like many Brazilians, Marcos Daniel first dreamed of becoming a footballer. He and his father were regulars on the pitches in Rio Grande do Sul until a serious knee injury put paid to his future as a footballer. But tennis soon filled the void: "I first picked up a racket when I was 12, and quickly came to love the sport. Even when my friends were going to the beach I would stay behind and practice," remembers Daniel.
By the time he turned 19, Marcos had turned professional and signed up with a sponsor. But then a slipped disc struck a terrible blow to his progress. For four years he was virtually unable to move, and the injury nearly pushed him to end to his budding career. Then, on the long road to recovery Daniel found God. He became an Evangelist and joined the Atletas de Cristo (‘‘Athletes of Christ’’) association, alongside the footballer Kakà. "It is thanks to God that I didn’t give up,’’ he says. ‘‘He helped me to keep going and get out of the dark hole I was in. My family were also there for me. I owe them a lot." Since then, "el padre", as he is known by his friends on the circuit, has forged a respectable career for himself, the highlight being an ATP ranking of No60 in September 2008.
Today, Marcos Daniel is ranked world No96 and eager to make up for lost time. At nearly 30 years of age, he feels he still has progress to make. After getting through the qualifying rounds, Larri Passos’ ex-pupil drew the short straw and faces Rafael Nadal in the first round. Not that he is overawed. “I’m really excited about the match! Facing the King of Clay on Centre Court at Roland Garros – that’s great, isn’t it? And you never know… Nothing’s impossible.”