Who is Darwin Blanch? 16-year-old US teen phenom and dead ringer for Ben Shelton who faces Rafael Nadal

Wednesday, 24 April 2024 at 11:23
The first round of the Madrid Open will feature a stellar match between the 22-times Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and the young wild card Darwin Blanch, aged 16. Never before has there been such an age difference in a Masters 1000 match, with a gap of 21 years and 117 days.
The young tennis player is the son of a Spanish Coca-Cola executive, Ernesto Blanch, and has traveled around the world due to his father's job, living in countries such as Spain, Argentina, and the United States. Blanch has also spent time at the Rafa Nadal Academy and currently trains at the Juan Carlos Ferrero Academy, often alongside Carlos Alcaraz.

Blanch's weapons

Blanch is one of the players invited by IMG, the multinational company that owns the tournament in the Spanish capital. He is also listed as a client of Juan Acuña, the same agent who works with the Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva. In his early days as a learner at just 6 years old, he trained under the tutelage of Rick Macci, former coach of Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.
Blanch made his ATP debut at the 2024 Miami Open, but was defeated in the first round by Tomas Machac (4-6, 2-6).
At just 16 years old, he stands at 1.90 meters tall and possesses a powerful forehand adapted to modern tennis. He is a player who adapts well to different surfaces and excels particularly with his strength and strong forehand from the baseline. Rick Macci himself praised him nearly a year ago:
'American 15-year-old Darwin Blanch will have one of the best forehands and serves on the ATP TOUR in the near future. Everything is science-based and wired correctly from age 6. The muscle memory is brainwashed to optimize execution in sync so you do not have a technical flaw,' he wrote on X.
Blanch made a name for himself last year by reaching the junior semifinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and at the US Open, he even trained with Novak Djokovic before the semifinal against Ben Shelton. According to Blanch himself, at tournaments, some fans mistake him for Shelton due to their physical resemblance.

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