Tennis Prose



Biofile with Michael Russell

One of the most respected grinders of the ATP Tour, “Iron” Mike shares insights and memories of a remarkable 13-year ATP career – which has endured numerous surgeries, grand slam glory & agony, countless mileage by foot and air – but is still going quite strong…

Status: ATP #81. Winner of 11 Challenger and 8 Futures events. Has career wins against Berdych, Bruguera, Verkerk, Dent, Hanescu, Malisse, Mahut and Sanguinetti. His highest ATP ranking was #60 in 2007. Has earned over $1,000,000 in career prize money.

Ht: 5-8 Wt: 160

DOB: May 1, 1978 In: Detroit, Michigan

Tennis Inspirations: “Growing up I loved watching Andre Agassi play, he was my hero. The way he could take the ball early. Hit everything as hard as he could. Inspirations for me – are my wife, my parents, they both worked really hard, never had that much growing up and had to work hard for everything. Like I do when I play on the court. I have to work for everything.”

First Tennis Memory: “Gotta be hitting on the garage when I was five years old. Wood racquet.”

Nicknames: “Mussell, Wheels, Mighty Mouse, Iron Mike.”

Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “I’m actually finishing school – that’s one of my hobbies. I like reading. I enjoy working out. I continue to go to the gym frequently. And I love going to the beach.”

Last Book Read: “Robert Ludlum – Prometheus Theory.”

Favorite Movies: “Braveheart, Dumb & Dumber, Last of the Mohicans.”

Favorite TV Show: “Office.”

Musical Tastes: “U2.”

First Job: “Professional tennis player.”

Current Car: “Still done have one [smiles]. I just rent a car every week. This week I have a Honda.”

Favorite Meal: “Sushi.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Chocolate chip.”

Greates Sports Moment: “I’d say playing Lleyton Hewitt after being out with three knee surgeries and coming back and playing stadium court in a grand slam stage (lost in five sets in 2007 in Australia) – after previously (in) 2001 getting so close (losing in five sets to Kuerten in French Open fourth round after holding MP). Being able to come back there six years later – was pretty proud to be able to do it.”

Most Painful Moment: “Any time getting injured. Many times. Three knee surgeries, rotator cuff tears. Injuries are the most painful.”

Favorite Tournaments: “Indian Wells, U.S. Open, French Open.”

Your Best, Finest Performance: “One time I beat Tomas Berdych in Indian Wells in straight sets (2007). Played well sometimes in a couple of Challengers – it’s not ATP level – but sometimes I’ve beaten guys 1 and 1 in 45 minutes. And time winning a Challenger or matches in ATP – that’s sweet.”

Closest Tennis Friends: “Todd Widom, American guys.”

Funniest Players Encountered: “I like to think of myself as kind of a joker. Safin is kind of funny. He’s a little crazy. Tursunov is a jokester.”

Toughest Competitors Encountered: “Lleyton Hewitt, Nadal.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “Playing a match one time, French Open juniors (1994), my opponent Kevin Kim, hit a serve and it hit a bird, it was flying across the court. Unfortunately it killed the bird. Another time I played a Challenger and the fish dropped out of the sky – in the middle of the court – and it was an eagle carrying the fish from the ocean. And dropped it in the middle of the point during the match (Savannah, GA).”

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “Any time you break a racquet it looks kind of embarrassing to yourself and supporters. One time I played a match in Bermuda and my shorts were on backwards. I had to go back and change.”

Favorite Players To Watch: “Federer – so smooth. Still enjoy watching Nadal play. Still enjoy watching Agassi tapes. Santoro – so unorthodox. So fun to watch Rafter – serve and volley.”

Favorite Sport Outside Tennis: “I would say it would be American football.”

Childhood Dream: “To be honest, I loved tennis. Tennis player. I enjoyed playing soccer, baseball, tennis. I realized I was better at tennis. And it’s been my lifelong goal to be a professional tennis player.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Honesty. Just being sincere. Genuine, not too superficial.”

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