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Michael Mmoh, here are five things you need to know about Nadal’s next opponent

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Michael Mmoh pulled off a stunning comeback in the first round of the Australian Open after clinching a win against Viktor Troicki. The Serbian was two sets up to one and served for the match in the fourth set.

Even after letting slip that opportunity, the former World No. 12 immediately broke in the fifth set and took a 3-0 lead. Michael Mmoh kept battling to turn the tide, successfully doing so after five sets and more than four hours.

This comeback rewarded him a chance to play 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.
Before the World No. 177 gets his shot at the Spaniard, let’s have a look at five things to know about Mmoh.

1) He grew up in Saudi Arabia but is citizen of the United States & Australia:

Mmoh spent much of his childhood in Saudi Arabia. Geraldine O’Reilly, his mother, is a nurse from Ireland through whom he also has Australian citizenship. His father, former World No. 105 Tony Mmoh, is from Nigeria.

2) He was named after Basketball king, Michael Jordan and got into sports early:

At the age of six, while living in Saudia Arabia, Mmoh was an early riser. His father would discover him in the early hours of the morning outside hitting tennis balls against a wall or shooting hoops. Mmoh was named after Michael Jordan, the NBA legend who played for the Chicago Bulls. By the age of nine, Mmoh was entering 18-and-under tennis tournaments and men’s open’s divisions in Saudi Arabia.

3) Mmoh moved to the United States at the age of 13:

The junior Mmoh received plenty of attention at a young age, and it led to a big change in his life. Mmoh, then 12, won the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl Tennis Championships in Florida, and legendary coach Nick Bollettieri of the IMG Academy offered him a scholarship to join his programme. The junior accepted the offer months later and made the move. He still resides in Florida today, a decade later. “I think the big thing about Michael Mmoh was his size,” Bollettieri said. “And he liked hitting the crap out of the ball, and I liked that.”

Mmoh spent several years under the tutelage of Glenn Weiner, who also spent three years coaching Kei Nishikori. Last year during the pandemic, Mmoh was able to practise with the likes of Miomir Kecmanovic and Sebastian Korda in that area.

4) He has Home-Court Advantage at the Australian Open:

Mmoh’s mother moved to Melbourne in December 2016, where several cousins also live. The American, who says the city “feels like a second home”, recalls visiting almost every Christmas. It’s no surprise he’s comfortable at the Australian Open, which is held in Melbourne. He enjoys the food in particular.

“I’ve been in New York, been all over Europe, been all over the States. No. 1 spot in the world is Melbourne,” Mmoh said. “No. 2 I would say is culture. People are so nice over here, really welcoming. Always ready to help you and you enjoy being in Melbourne. You never feel uncomfortable walking down the streets in Melbourne. I think that’s a big plus.”

5) Mmoh has excelled in the ATP Challenger Tour and Nadal will be his biggest test:

Mmoh owns 10 tour-level match wins, but most of his success has come on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 23-year-old is a five-time titlist at that level, triumphing most recently in Knoxville in 2019. At that tournament, Mmoh only dropped one set in six matches. He lifted his first Challenger trophy at the same event in 2016 at the age of 18.

Facing Nadal will be the biggest challenge of Mmoh’s career. It will be the second Top 10 opponent he has faced, joining Roberto Bautista Agut at last year’s Australian Open. While Mmoh lost against the Spaniard in that match, he defeated then-World No. 15 Bautista Agut at the 2018 Miami Open presented by Itau for his biggest win by FedEx ATP Ranking.

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