Alex Michelson is having quite a summer. He should be preparing for his first year of college, at age 18, but he won his first ATP Challenger event last week and he’s now made his first ATP final in Newport, RI by beating fellow American John Isner, 7-6(6), 6-4.
“It’s always been my mental state, ‘why not me?’ That’s what I’ve told myself this whole week,” said Michelson during his post-match interview. Ranked only 190, Michelson put on a fearless display of tennis in the semifinal against Isner, 20 years his senior and a graduate of the University of Georgia, the same college that Michelson has committed to, with designs to play collegiate tennis.
But first at the Challenger event in Chicago last week, and now in Newport, Michelson has found a bold level of tennis that is causing a sensation in the sport.
His plans now may be changing. “I think I’m going to need a month, maybe three weeks,” said 18-year-old Michelson about processing everything that’s been happening these last few weeks. “It doesn’t feel like I’m in the final,” he said, adding, “that’s probably a good thing, that’s why I’m playing so loose today”.
To top it off, the California native has been flying solo during his string of wins, and calling his coaches for advice. The Tennis Hall of Fame finalist is hoping that he’ll be able to get either Jay Leavitt or Eric Diaz—his two coaches—to possibly fly in for his big opportunity on Sunday in Newport.
“Call the coaches up,” was Michelson’s response to preparing to face world No. 38 Adrian Mannarino, who beat his younger Frenchman, Ugo Humbert, in the earlier semifinal, 6-4, 6-3. “I think one of them might be flying here tomorrow,” said Michelson about having one of his coaches in the player’s area at the tournament.
The breakthrough player of the competition has felt plenty of support, even if he didn’t always have an entourage following him from tournament to tournament. “A lot of support from my buddies back home, from my parents and my coaches,” said Michelson about the amount of texts, calls and messages he’s received as he’s progressed at each event.
“Super nice to have their support,” he added, smiling. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises that came out of the semi against Isner was Michelson’s ability to absorb Isner’s power serve. The underdog at the Infosys Tennis Hall of Fame Open, Michelson’s been surprising fans all week, including taking out the defending champion, Maxime Cressy, in his first match.
Alex Michelson will play his first ATP final against Mannarino on Sunday. Michelson’s ranking is sure to jump after his stint in Newport.
Alex Michelson an 18 year old upsets Maxime Cressy at Newport RI. I am sure we will see more of him. Solid game. @TennisHalloFame @atptour pic.twitter.com/IOHSHx9reJ — Garrey (@FinnTheWheaten) July 18, 2023