It was fourteen years ago, in 1997 when Michael Russell, the current World No. 96, played in the first Challenger event of his career in Indian Wells where he lost in straight sets to Jared Palmer. The long road of professional tennis would begin there and it would be 11 months before Russell would earn his first win, this one over Florian Grewe of Austria.
It would be 10 years before Russell would return to Indian Wells, this time competing in the Masters Series event where he would go on to reach the fourth round, defeating then No. 12 Tomas Berdych in straight sets 7-6 (2), 6-4. The year of 2007 would also be the year he achieved his highest ranking of No. 60 thanks to three wins in Challenger events and his showing in Indian Wells.
Now at the age of 33, he continues the grind with no show of stopping anytime soon. Russell has had the unfortunate task of facing Gilles Simon, David Ferrer, and Rafael Nadal in the first three majors of the year, and will play Andy Roddick in the first round of the US Open tonight. As a resident of Houston, we see him in the store often, not only to check on the specs of his racquets (he is a frequent equipment tweaker), but also to help us out as the talent for some of our commercials.
For the gear heads out there, Russell signed with Dunlop earlier this year, replacing his longtime trusted Babolat Pure Drive+ Cortex frames with the new Dunlop Biomimetic 500. In their efforts to ease the transition, Dunlop has a bit of a special make up of the frame for Russell, which measures 27.5 inches long, and has a slightly different 16x19 string pattern compared to the retail model’s 16x18 pattern.
He has been using Luxilon ALU Power 16L Silver in a full bed setup strung using a one-piece pattern with the crosses always tensioned two pounds lower than the mains. Russell wears apparel by Under Armour.