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Michael Russell (tennis)


Michael Russell (tennis)

Michael Russell
Michael Russell (May 2011)
Full name Michael Craig Russell
Country  United States
Residence Houston, Texas
Born (1978-05-01) May 1, 1978
Detroit, Michigan
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Turned pro 1998
Plays Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Prize money $2,352,870
Career record 76–148
Career titles 0
Highest ranking No. 60 (August 13, 2007)
Current ranking No. 143 (August 4, 2014)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open 2R (2008, 2011)
French Open 4R (2001)
Wimbledon 2R (2010, 2012)
US Open 1R (1998, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
Career record 23–51
Career titles 0
Highest ranking No. 164 (June 11, 2012)
Current ranking No. 1048 (August 4, 2014)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open 1R (2010)
French Open 1R (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Wimbledon 2R (2011)
US Open 1R (1998, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
Last updated on: August 4, 2014.

Michael Craig Russell (born May 1, 1978) is an American professional tennis player. He reached a career-high singles ranking of World No. 60 in August 2007. His 23 United States Tennis Association (USTA) Pro Circuit singles titles were the all-time record, as of November 2013. That month he became the third-highest-ranked American in the world.

In 1994 Russell was ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles in the USTA Boys' 16 rankings, and in 1996 he was ranked No. 1 in singles in the U.S. Boys' 18-Under. Playing for the University of Miami in 1996–97, he was named National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Rookie of the Year, before he turned pro in 1997. A high school valedictorian, Russell is one of the few current Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) players who have a college degree, having earned a B.S. from the University of Phoenix with a 3.94 grade point average.

Russell has struggled with knee injuries for much of his professional career.[1] He is perhaps best known for, on two occasions, holding surprise two-set leads in Grand Slam tournaments against former Grand Slam champions, before eventually being defeated both times.[2] In the fourth round of the 2001 French Open (his best run at a Grand Slam) against defending and eventual champion Gustavo Kuerten (the world's # 1-ranked player), Russell led two-sets-to love and 5–3 in the third set, and held a match point, but was defeated in five sets. In the 2007 Australian Open, he held a two-sets-to-love lead over former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt, before succumbing in five sets. Other career highlights include a fourth-round showing at the 2007 Indian Wells Masters event, a semi-final appearance at the 2012 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships, and wins against top-10 players Mardy Fish and Tomas Berdych.

Personal life

Russell, who is Jewish, was born in University of Michigan's Big 10 Conference 1965 championship team.[5] His mother, Carole, also attended the University of Michigan, and is an English teacher.[5] His older brother David played tennis at Princeton University, and attended Harvard Business School.[5]

Russell grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a Detroit suburb.[6] He played soccer until his freshman year of high school.[7]

In 1995, Russell was the valedictorian at Saddlebrook High School in Florida.[5][6][8] He then attended the University of Miami in 1996–97.[6]

Russell married his wife Lilly, a fitness competitor whom he had met in 2004, on November 10, 2007.[5][6] His nicknames include "Mighty Mouse," "Spanky," "Wheels," and "Iron Mike."[2][9]

He is one of the few current Association of Tennis Professionals players who have a college degree, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in January 2012. Russell graduated with Honors and a 3.94 grade point average.[5][10] He reflected, “I was raised, as are most Jewish people, not to forego a university education."[1]

Tennis career

Junior career

In 1991, Russell lost in the finals of the 1991 USTA National Boys' 14 Indoor Championships.[2] In 1993, he won the USTA National Boys' 16 Indoor Doubles Championship with Kevin Kim.[2]

Russell finished 1994 ranked # 1 in both singles and doubles in the USTA Boys' 16 rankings.[2] He won the 1994 USTA National Boys' 16 Championships, beating top-seeded Kevin Kim in the finals, and won the doubles title with Geoff Abrams.[2][11] He lost in the finals of the 1994 USTA National Boys' 16 Clay Court Championships to Kevin Kim, and beat Bob Bryan in the semi-finals and Kim in the finals of the 1994 Easter Bowl Boys' 16s Championships.[11]

In 1995, he won the singles title at the USTA National Boys’ 18 Clay Court Championships, beating Kevin Kim in the finals, while losing in the doubles finals with Geoff Abrams.[2] Russell reached the second round in singles and the quarterfinals in doubles with Kim at the 1995 Australian Open Junior Championships.[2]

In 1996, he was ranked #1 in U.S. Boys' 18-Under.[5][2] That year, Russell won the 1996 Easter Bowl boys’ 18 championships, beating Bob Bryan in the finals, and won the doubles title with Kim at the 1996 Asuncion Bowl in Asuncion, Paraguay.[2] He lost in the singles finals at the 1996 USTA National Boys’ 18 Clay Court Championships to Bob Bryan.[2] At the 1996 USTA National Boys’ 18 Championships, he lost in the singles semifinals to Kevin Kim, and in the doubles final with Kim to Bob and Mike Bryan.[2] He was a doubles quarterfinalist with Kim at the 1996 Wimbledon junior championships.[2] He won the USTA Midwest Section 1996 Wallace R. Holzman, Sr. Award.[12]

College career

Russell played number one singles for the University of Miami in 1996–97.[6] He was named 1997 NCAA Rookie of the Year and an All American, and finished # 7 in collegiate rankings (and # 1 among freshmen), before he turned pro in 1997.[5][2][6][1] His 39 singles match wins were a school record, and he was the first freshman since 1986 to win the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, defeating Fred Niemeyer in the finals.[2] He was also named to the 1997 Rolex Collegiate All-Star Team, selected by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and Tennis Magazine, and the Big East Championship Most Outstanding Player.[13]


A week before he was to go pro in 1997, while serving to Andre Agassi during a 1997 practice session in North Carolina he suffered a spiral fracture of the humerus bone in his right arm.[6] He spent the next five months rehabbing his arm.[6] In 1997 Russell won USTA Satellite Circuit tournaments in Waco, Texas, Springfield, Missouri, and St. Joseph, Missouri.[2]

In 1998, he won the singles title at the USTA Satellite in Mobile, Alabama.[2] In 1999, Russell won USTA Futures events in Vero Beach, Florida, and Weston, Florida.[2]

In 2000, Russell won the USTA Challenger in Amarillo, Texas, defeating Stefano Pescosolido in the finals, and won the doubles title with Tommy Robredo at the Edinburgh, Scotland, Challenger.[2] He also won his first ATP match, defeating Hugo Armando in the first round of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Orlando, Florida.[2] He was named a practice partner for the United States Davis Cup team for the U.S. vs. Spain Davis Cup semifinal in Santander, Spain.[2]

In 2001, he finished ranked in the top 100 in the world.[2] Russell won the singles and doubles, with Robert Kendrick, championships at the USTA Futures event in Mobile, Alabama.[2] He became the first player to play his way into four consecutive Grand Slam events in succession through qualifiers (2000 Wimbledon, US Open; 2001 Australian Open, Roland Garros).[2][6]

In his French Open debut, as a qualifier he advanced to the fourth round. There, he faced world # 1 Gustavo Kuerten, the defending champion, whom he beat in the first two sets.[2][6] He had match point at 5–3 in the third set, and was serving.[2][6] But Kuerten saved the match point at the end of a 26-stroke rally with a forehand winner that landed on the baseline.[2][6][14][15] "It's unfortunate we have umpires," Russell joked, "because I would have called it out."[14] Kuerten then came back to defeat Russell in the 205-minute match 3–6, 4–6, 7–6 (7), 6–3, 6–1.[2][6]


In 2003, Russell was hampered by a right knee injury for much of the year.[2] He had arthroscopic surgery in May.[2] Between 2003 and the following year he had three knee surgeries to address a condition that had been hampering him known as osteochondritis dissecans.[16] It is a genetic disorder usually found in 16-year-olds, in which his bone and cartilage separated and broke off from the rest of his knee and femur.[6][16] He ultimately required surgery on both his knees.[6] His father said:
He reminds me of Don Quixote … [tilting] at those windmills. For every success, I can tell you, there's been hours on the couch with ice bags on his knees. After the third knee operation, most people would have thrown up their hands and said, 'I'm star-crossed, I can't do it.' But Michael has persevered. That's why he's our hero.[6]

In 2004, he won singles titles at the USTA Futures event in Buffalo, New York, defeating [2] In June 2005, Russell tore his right hamstring in a tournament in Ecuador.[6] He spent four and a half months in rehab, and began taking courses at University of California, Berkeley by the internet.[6][17] Flying home on a 20-hour flight from the qualifying for the 2006 Australian Open, he developed blood clots in both of his lungs.[6][16] He had his problem treated with ten days of injections of the blood thinners Coumadin and Lovenox.[6]

In 2007 he won a Challenger tournament in Nouméa, New Caledonia.[6] Two weeks later, in the first round of the 2007 Australian Open, Russell led former # 1 player Lleyton Hewitt two sets to love on center court before succumbing.[6][18] In the 2007 Indian Wells Masters event, he made it to the final 16 players in a 96-player field, after upsetting 11th seed – and 12th-rankedTomáš Berdych in round 2 in straight sets.[19][6][9] By August 2007, in his first ten years as a pro tennis player he had won approximately $750,000 in official prize money, but after his expenses for airfare, hotel bills, meals, rental cars, taxes, and sneakers, as sportswriter Greg Garber wrote in an ESPN article: "In terms of net income, a minimum-wage worker at McDonald's did better financially than Russell did during the nine years before 2007."[6]

Michael Russell (December 2010)

On May 25, 2008, he was named USTA Circuit Player of the Week after winning three consecutive singles titles.[2] In April 2010, he was at the age of 31 the third-oldest player in the men's top 75.[20]

Russell made his first ATP semi-final at the 2012 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas. He came through qualifying and beat top seed, world # 9 and compatriot Mardy Fish in straight sets on his way to a three-set loss to Juan Mónaco. The win against Fish was his first over a top-10 player.[21] He ended the 2012 season as the third-oldest man in the ATP Top 100.[22]

Russell, as a lucky loser, made it to the quarterfinals of the 2013 U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships, losing to Denis Istomin in straight sets.[23] In November 2013, he won an ATP Challenger in Charlottesville by coming back from 0–5 in the final set against Canadian Peter Polansky for the win.[24]

The victory pushed him into the top 80 in the world rankings, and he became the third-highest-ranked American in the world.[25][26] His 23 USTA Pro Circuit singles titles as of November 2013 was the all-time record.[20][27][28][24]At the 2014 Rogers Cup in Toronto,he pushed David Ferrer to come up with his best tennis.

Playing style

Russell has "startling acceleration, precise footwork and, most important, a voracious work ethic."[6] He is a defensive counter-puncher, known for his tremendous footspeed, consistency, potent forehand, and fitness, which allows him to keep balls in play.[7] John McEnroe described him as a particularly dogged competitor, saying that "no one's going to try harder on a tennis court than Michael Russell".[29]

People questioned his potential when he was a junior because they thought he was too little for pro tennis.[7] In 2001, at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, he was one of the 3 or 4 smallest players among the world's top 150 players.[7] An ESPN article in 2007, noting that he was 5-foot-8 and weighed 160 pounds, called him: "one of the smallest players in the professional game."[6]

ATP career finals

Doubles: 1 (0–1)

Grand Slam Tournaments (0–0)
ATP World Tour Finals (0–0)
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 (0–0)
ATP World Tour 500 Series (0–0)
ATP World Tour 250 Series (0–1)
Titles by Surface
Hard (0–1)
Clay (0–0)
Grass (0–0)
Carpet (0–0)
Outcome No. Date Tournament Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 1. July 22, 2012 BB&T Atlanta Open, Atlanta, United States Hard Xavier Malisse Matthew Ebden
Ryan Harrison
3–6, 6–3, [6–10]

ATP Challenger finals

Singles: 21 (15 titles, 6 runners-up)

Challenger (15–6)
Titles by Surface
Hard (13–5)
Clay (2–1)
Grass (0–0)
Carpet (0–0)
Outcome No. Date Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1. January 31, 2000 Amarillo, Texas, United States Hard (i) Stefano Pescosolido 7–5, 6–2
Runner-up 1. October 2, 2000 Austin, Texas, United States Hard Andy Roddick 4–6, 4–6
Runner-up 2. April 2, 2001 Calabasas, California, United States Hard André Sá 2–6, 4–6
Winner 2. July 12, 2004 Granby, Quebec, Canada Hard Davide Sanguinetti 6–3, 6–2
Winner 3. November 28, 2005 Orlando, Florida, United States Hard Todd Widom 6–4, 6–2
Winner 4. August 14, 2006 Bronx, New York, United States Hard Paul Capdeville 6–0, 6–2
Runner-up 3. September 25, 2006 Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA Hard Bobby Reynolds 6–7(3–7), 3–6
Winner 5. November 27, 2006 Maui, Hawaii, United States Hard Sam Warburg 6–1, 6–0
Winner 6. January 1, 2007 Nouméa, New Caledonia, France Hard David Guez 6–0, 6–1
Winner 7. January 22, 2007 Waikoloa, Hawaii, United States Hard Jamie Baker 6–1, 7–5
Winner 8. February 12, 2007 Joplin, Missouri, United States Hard (i) Frédéric Niemeyer 6–4, 6–1
Runner-up 4. January, 12, 2009 São Paulo, Brazil Hard Santiago Giraldo 3–6, 2–6
Winner 9. May 4, 2009 Savannah, Georgia, United States Clay Alex Kuznetsov 6–4, 7–6(8–6)
Winner 10. May 25, 2009 Carson, California, United States Clay Michael Yani 6–1, 6–1
Runner-up 5. September 7, 2009 Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands Clay Stephane Robert 6–7(2–7), 7–5, 6–7(5–7)
Runner-up 6. October 19, 2009 Calabasas, California, United States Hard Donald Young 6–7(4–7), 1–6
Winner 11. November 21, 2009 Champaign, Illinois, United States Hard (i) Taylor Dent 7–5, 6–4
Winner 12. January 31, 2010 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Hard (i) Grega Žemlja 6–0, 6–3
Winner 13. November 11, 2012 Knoxville, Tennessee, United States Hard Bobby Reynolds 6–3, 6–2
Winner 14. July 6, 2013 Manta, Ecuador Hard Greg Jones 4–6, 6–0, 7–5
Winner 15. November 4, 2013 Charlottesville, Virginia, United States Hard Peter Polansky 7–5, 2–6, 7–6(7–5)

Singles performance timeline


Won tournament; or reached Final; Semifinal; Quarter-final; Round 4, 3, 2, 1; competed at a Round Robin stage; lost in Qualification Round; absent from tournament event; played in a Davis Cup Zonal Group (with its number indication) or Play-off; won a bronze, silver (F or S) or gold medal at the Olympics; a downgraded Masters Series/1000 tournament (Not a Masters Series); or a tournament that was Not Held in a given year.

To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated either at the conclusion of a tournament, or when the player's participation in the tournament has ended.

Tournament 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 SR W–L Win %
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Open A A A 1R 1R A A A A 1R 2R A 1R 2R 1R 1R 1R 0 / 9 2–9 18.18
French Open A A A 4R 1R A A A A 1R A Q1 1R 1R Q2 1R 1R 0 / 7 3–7 30.00
Wimbledon A A 1R A 1R A A A A 1R A A 2R 1R 2R 1R 1R 0 / 8 2–8 20.00
US Open 1R A 1R 1R A A A A 1R 1R A Q2 1R 1R 1R 1R 0 / 9 0–9 0.00
Win–Loss 0–1 0–0 0–2 3–3 0–3 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–4 1–1 0–0 1–4 1–4 1–3 0–4 0–1 0 / 33 7–33 17.50
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Indian Wells Masters A A A A A A A A A 4R A 2R 3R 2R Q2 Q2 2R 0 / 5 8–5 61.54
Miami Masters A A A A A A A A A A A 2R 2R 1R Q2 Q1 Q1 0 / 3 2–3 40.00
Monte Carlo Masters A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A 0 / 0 0–0 0.00
Rome Masters A A A A A A A A A Q1 A A Q1 A A A A 0 / 0 0–0 0.00
Madrid Masters1 A A A A A A A A A Q2 A A 1R A A A A 0 / 1 0–1 0.00
Canada Masters 1R A A 1R A A A A A 2R A A 1R 2R Q2 Q2 0 / 5 2–5 28.57
Cincinnati Masters A A A 1R A A A A A A A Q1 Q2 A Q1 Q2 0 / 1 0–1 0.00
Shanghai Masters2 A A A A A A A A A A A A Q1 A A 1R 0 / 1 0–1 0.00
Paris Masters A A A A A A A A A A A A 1R A A A 0 / 1 0–1 0.00
Win–Loss 0–1 0–0 0–0 0–2 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 4–2 0–0 2–2 3–5 2–3 0–0 0–1 1–1 0 / 17 12–17 41.38
Career statistics
Titles–Finals 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0 / 0 0–0 0.00
Year End Ranking 288 232 155 87 157 502 250 256 144 82 242 83 99 99 87 92 $2,352,870

1 Held as Hamburg Masters (outdoor clay) until 2008, Madrid Masters (outdoor clay) 2009–present.
2 Held as Stuttgart Masters (indoor hard) until 2001, Madrid Masters (indoor hard) from 2002–08, and Shanghai Masters (outdoor hard) 2009–present.

Doubles performance timeline

Tournament 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 W–L
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian Open A A A A A A A A A A A A 1R A A A 0–1
French Open A A A A A A A A A 1R A A 1R 1R 1R A 0–4
Wimbledon A A A A A A A A A 1R A A A 2R 1R 1R 1–4
US Open 1R A A 1R A A A A A A A A 1R 1R 1R 1R 0–6
Win–Loss 0–1 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–2 0–0 0–0 0–3 1–3 0–3 0–2 1–15

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Marvin Glassman (August 25, 2010). "Oldest player schools young guns at Rogers Cup". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "Michael Russell: Circuit Player of the Week". USTA. May 25, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ Marvin Glassman (August 12, 2013). "Levine reaches milestone at Rogers Cup Tennis". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ Marvin Glassman (March 30, 2010). "Peer triumphs in tennis". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Michael Russell". ATP World Tour. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Greg Garber (August 22, 2007). "Perseverance paying off for Michael Russell; The Roger Federers and Andy Roddicks win the titles and spend their careers in the international spotlight. However, as Greg Garber writes, their successes would not be possible without players like Michael Russell.". ESPN. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d Gene Frenette (July 17, 2001). "He'll always have Paris ...; But Russell, one of ATP's smallest players, has big long-term goals". Times-Union. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ Jim Brockman (April 19, 2012). "Russell powers past Kuznetsov". Herald Tribune. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Biofile with Michael Russell". Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Michael Russell completes undergrad program from University of Phoenix". January 15, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Sunny Hills' Kim Advances in Miami". Los Angeles Times. April 2, 1994. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Wallace R. Holzman, Sr. Award winners". USTA Midwest. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  13. ^ "All-American Monday – Michael Russell". October 5, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "2001 French Open – Kuerten rallies from brink of defeat to win in Paris". Sports Illustrated. June 3, 2001. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  15. ^ Clarey, Christopher (June 4, 2001). "Top Seed Displays Big Heart Against Diminutive American Qualifier: Terrier Russell Harries Kuerten". International New York Times. 
  16. ^ a b c Gene Frenette (August 29, 2006). "Russell takes his last shot". The Times-Union. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  17. ^ Charles Bricker (February 22, 2007). "Russell Beats All Challenges". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  18. ^ Niall, Jake (January 17, 2007). "Back from the brink: Hewitt prevails". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  19. ^ "BC-TEN—Indian Wells Results". March 12, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Dale Robertson (April 4, 2010). "Russell’s love of competition brings him to Clay Courts". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Michael Russell tops Mardy Fish in U.S. Men's Clay Court". USA Today. December 4, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Michael Russell bio". May 1, 1978. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Istomin to face Lopez in Memphis semi-finals". Steve G Tennis. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "Russell rallies to win Charlottesville Challenger". The Daily Progress. November 3, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  25. ^ Douglas Robson (November 11, 2013). "American Woes Continue". USA Today. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Tennis – 35 year old American Micheal Russell wins ATP Challenger title in Charlottesville". November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ ".". Star-Telegram. February 26, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  28. ^ "The Maui Challenger; Tournament Notes". January 15, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  29. ^ US Open TV broadcast, Michael Russell vs. James Blake, August 28, 2007.

External links

  • Michael Russell on Twitter
  • Michael Russell at the Association of Tennis Professionals
  • Russell Recent Match Results
  • Russell World Ranking History
  • Wimbledon: Michael Russell video interview, USTA, June 20, 2011
  • "Video: Knowing His Racket to the Gram;" Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2011
  • Interview With Michael Russell, Tennis Now, December 15, 2011
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