Who is Michael Russell? Even most diehard tennis fans may not be familiar with the veteran American player who advanced into his first ever ATP tour quarterfinals at the SAP Open today with a 6-4, 7-5 win over another veteran, Belgian Xavier Malisse.
Known as “Wheels” on tour due to his never say die attitude on court, Russell, once a top-ranked junior and NCAA player has found most of his success in Challenger events where last year he won three titles. Currently ranked #78, his last big stage match was at this year’s Australian Open where he lost in the first round to Juan Martin del Potro.
At 31, Russell is the oldest playing American on the tour and even though he may not have received the attention of Andy Roddick or James Blake, it’s definitely admirable to see someone grind it on the tour for so long. As Russell said after his win today, “I work hard, I love the game and I always check my ego at the door, and if I’m playing a Future, Challenger or ATP event I always feel the same out there.”
Russell will next face Sam Querrey who many think could be the next American No.1. But at least this week, Russell deserves to share in the spotlight with his younger and more well-known compatriots.
For more about Russell, click on his ATP profile here.