Michael Russell struck a blow for the thirty-something generation at the Liverpool International. The 36-year-old American, a late addition to the line up, joined names like David Ferrer, Marat Safin and Xavier Malisse on the list of winners.
The women’s title, however, was lifted by a schoolgirl more than 20 years younger – 15-year-old Surrey protege Jodie Burrage. Both finals were watched by near full houses in fine weather as the 13th International tournament made a successful transition to its new venue of Liverpool Cricket Club.
At 36, one of the oldest players on the circuit, Russell defeated 16-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev – the current French Open junior champion – in Saturday’s men’s final before heading to Wimbledon where he faces a first round clash with Germany’s Julian Reister.
In a keenly contested match the final took almost two hours to decide.
Russell claimed the first set 6-4 before Rublev bounced back in the second set, taking Russell to a tie-break and winning 7-5.
A tie-break set was required to decide the destiny of the trophy and it was Russell who came out on top.
Afterwards he tipped his young Russian opponent for future success on the ATP circuit.
“He has a massive forehand,” said Russell. “He is definitely a star for the future.
“Liverpool has been a fantastic place to play tennis, the crowds have been magnificent and I want to thank Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool City Council and Anders Borg (tournament director) for holding this incredible event.
“This is the way to increase involvement in the sport, giving kids the chance to see top stars, legends and future champions in action.”
Russell became the oldest winner of the event – while in the previous day’s Women’s final 15-year-old Jodie Burrage struck a blow for youth.
The Surrey schoolgirl added her name alongside tennis legends Martina Hingis, Caroline Wozniacki and last year’s champion Coco Vandeweghe with a 6-4 7-5 victory over British number five Tara Moore.
Story courtesy of Liverpool Echo