Punta Gorda, FL: Michael Russell, better known as “Wheels” on the court, is preparing for the 2010 French Open. The French Open, held in Paris, France, is a two-week competition that begins on May 23, 2010. The French open is the most widely recognized, prestigious tournament of the tennis world. The event is the only Grand Slam that is still played on a clay court, which happens to be the surface that Russell prefers. Slam tournaments consist of four tournaments that are the most important based on world ranking points, prize-money, tradition, and public attention.
Michael Russell is currently the oldest American on the court. Age, however, is not holding him back from reaching his goals. Russell has been involved in the sport since the age of five, coached by his father George Russell, and has earned the nickname “Wheels” due to his go-get’em attitude and never-ending persistence on the court. Russell, who turned pro in 1998, has played in each of the Grand Slams. He actually holds a record as being the first tennis player to qualify four times consecutively for Grand Slam events, namely Wimbledon, the US Open, the Australian Open, and the French Open. Russell is best known for holding match point in the 2001 French Open against Gustavo Kuerten, then three-time champion, who defeated Russell in the fourth round.
Russell has endured many unfortunate injuries over the last several years, and while most would view these as huge setbacks, Russell preservers and comes out of those situations stronger. He admits that he is “very competitive, almost to the point of being obsessive-compulsive.” Fellow tennis colleagues have remarked that he is very tenacious and an overachiever, but his great attitude always remains intact. To go with his remarkable character, he is also known for his fast footwork and acceleration, balance, power, and strength. The world will be watching to see if Russell, “Wheels”, can swing his way to a title in the French Open. It will most certainly be a tournament where everything is left out on the court.