#NextGenATP Teen Michelsen On Top 100 Debut: ‘This Isn’t The End Goal’
Alex Michelsen had just earned his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Chicago this July before arriving at the ATP Tour event in Newport, where he remembers having a ‘pinch-me’ moment.
The #NextGenATP American was enjoying his first week inside the Top 200 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and his breakthrough was only just beginning. Michelsen downed countryman and former World No. 8 John Isner, 19 years his senior, at the grass-court 250 tournament. It was an instant confidence booster that gave Michelsen the belief he could be where he is today: inside the Top 100.
“After beating John in the semis of Newport, that didn’t really feel real,” Michelsen told ATPTour.com. “I was telling myself throughout the match I could win it but when I actually won it, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was crazy.’”
On Monday, Isner, who officially retired from pro tennis at the US Open, was among those to text Michelsen, congratulating the teenager on his latest milestone. Michelsen’s triumph at the Knoxville Challenger, his second title at that level, squeezed him inside the Top 100, at World No. 99.
“When I woke up and saw the rankings, it felt pretty good. It felt good to see myself next to two digits,” Michelsen said. “I’m always going for more, this isn’t the end goal.”
Michelsen officially turned pro in August and is in prime position to be among the eight 21-and-under players to compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals, which runs from 28 November-2 December. At ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Jeddah, Michelsen is eager for a chance to take part in the event that has seen past champions such as Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“I’ve watched it the past two or three years. I remember watching it last year and I remember telling my mom, ‘Wouldn’t it be crazy if I was there next year?’” Michelsen said. “She was like, ‘Ha! Yeah!’ like jokingly laughing... It would be really cool to be there.”
The California native started the year as World No. 600 while competing hard on the ITF World Tennis Tour. In February, Michelsen reached his maiden ATP Challenger Tour final in Rome, Georgia. Fast forward to July, when the #NextGenATP star secured his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Chicago and built upon his momentum with a finalist finish in Newport.
“Everyone is good at Challengers. Being around that kind of level is really important for physical and mental development,” Michelsen said. “It’s definitely a big step up from Futures, so I had to adjust pretty quickly. The ATP Challenger Tour is great for molding your game and seeing what you’re really made of.”
A memorable moment for Michelsen came at his home Slam, where he was given a wild card and won his first major main-draw match. Now Michelsen is the youngest player in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“If you told me in January, when I was ranked 600 that I would be Top 100 by November, I’d call you crazy,” Michelsen said. “I didn’t think it would happen that quickly. I had a feeling after the Newport run. I got to No. 140 and I thought I could do it by the end of the year, but I still was like, ‘Oh, Top 100 is still kind of far away.’ Now that I’ve done it, it feels great.”