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Michael Russell Q&A: A DJing Fitness Buff

Player Q&A

Russell© Aaron M. SprecherRussell reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final after falling in the quarter-finals three times.

Michael Russell has played professional tennis for 14 years, but the American had not reached an ATP World Tour semi-final… until Friday.

The 33 year old has achieved two career milestones this week at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in his hometown of Houston, ousting World No. 9 Mardy Fish in the second round for his first Top 10 victory on Thursday, and defeating 19-year-old countryman Ryan Harrison in the quarter-finals to reach his first tour-level final four.

As part of ATPWorldTour.com’s new Q&A series, Russell talks about his motivation to continue playing and the significance of his Twitter handle, ‘@djmruss’.

How does it feel to be doing so well at your home event?
It feels amazing. To be able to do it at home in Houston is fantastic.

How many daily ticket requests have you been getting?
It’s been around 10-20. The tournament has been very accommodating getting me tickets. And I’ve had some friends who have been buying their way in.

What motivates you to continue competing at 33?
I still enjoy playing and competing. I love the one-on-one competition aspect of tennis.

You became the first player to earn an undergraduate degree as part of ATP’s partnership with the University of Phoenix. How did you balance your career with classes and exams to complete your education? 
It was very difficult. I went three years without a break. I had to take the exams after playing my matches, so it was tough.

How did you decide on your Twitter username, @djmruss ?
I used a little bit of DJing on my computer years ago in high school, and I just stuck with it, as a lot of people know it’s one of my nicknames.

Your wife Lilly used to compete in fitness competitions. Between the two of you, who is in better shape?
My wife is probably stronger than I am. But I think I have better cardio. Both of us love to work out, so it makes going to the gym easier.

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