#NextGenATP pair Michelsen, Shang charge into AO R3
#NextGenATP American Alex Michelsen booked his spot in the third round at a major for the first time on Thursday when he overcame 32nd seed Jiri Lehecka 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
In a rain-disrupted match in Melbourne, the 19-year-old won 79 per cent (59/75) of his first-serve points and broke Lehecka’s serve four times to advance after two hours and 43 minutes.
"It feels great. It feels like I am on a different planet right now," Michelsen said. "I wasn't really expecting this coming in, but I just told myself to compete for every point and it worked out pretty good today.
"I can't really comprehend all of it. I never really thought two or three years ago that I was going to be in this position. Now that I am here it is really crazy and I am trying to do my best all the time."
Michelsen competed at the Next Gen ATP Finals last season and is one of three teenagers into the third round after Luca Van Assche and Shang Juncheng. The last time three teenagers reached the third round in Melbourne was in 2019 (Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov, Alexei Popyrin).
"It is really cool having a group of us," Michelsen said. "We push each other. I played Luca [Van Assche] at Next Gen and he barely got me, unfortunately. We say hi in the locker room and it is really great to have each of us pushing each other."
Michelsen, who reached his first tour-level final in Newport last year, will next play Alexander Zverev after the German won a five-set thriller against Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein.
Michelsen is up to No. 73 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, having not earned a tournament win this year prior to arriving in Melbourne.
China’s Shang also reached the third round at a major for the first time, defeating Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 6-4.
The 18-year-old lefty clawed past Mackenzie McDonald in five sets in the first round and backed up that win against Nagal, striking 55 winners. Next up for Shang is a meeting with World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz.
Shang, currently No. 137 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, reached his first tour-level semi-final in Hong Kong earlier this month.
"I actually spoke to my coach just before leaving pre-season coming to Hong Kong and to Australia," Shang said. "He says, 'If you expect nothing, then everything you get is overachieving'.
"For me, I've been just kind of having low expectations, just starting from scratch. It's always an opportunity for me to learn because last year I played one year on Tour, this is my second year, so everything is still kind of new to me. Kind of expecting me to do well after this really good pre-season with my team, but also at the same time this is very good for me and a very good experience."
Arthur Fils and Jakub Mensik could not join Michelsen, Van Assche and Shang in round three, though. The 19-year-old Frenchman Fils, who reached the title match at last year's Next Gen ATP Finals, lost to Dutch 28th seed Tallon Griekspoor 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile 18-year-old qualifier Mensik pushed Hubert Hurkacz all the way, but the ninth seed ultimately prevailed 6-7(9), 6-1, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.