INDIAN WELLS, Calif.—At this time last year, Alex Michelsen was ranked No. 306. He lost in the first round of qualifying at Indian Wells and, at the time, planned on starting college in the fall.

The Aliso Viejo, Calif. native’s plans took a different direction following a breakout summer that saw him reach an ATP final in Newport after picking up his maiden Challenger title in Chicago.

Now 19, Michelsen continues to flourish as one of the sport’s bright newcomers inside the Top 100. He’s come full circle 12 months later at the BNP Paribas Open, where he will make his ATP Masters 1000 main-draw debut. sat down with Michelsen to reflect on his memories in the California desert, and the journey to his opening match with Jaume Munar.

So Alex, I’m looking at you now and not sure many in the sport will recognize you…


Is this buzz cut something you always do this time of year?

MICHELSEN: No, I just felt it was time for a change. I never cut my hair short. It's been many, many years. It's a lot lower maintenance now, so it feels good.

Michelsen turned pro less than a year ago, forgoing his college eligibility.

Michelsen turned pro less than a year ago, forgoing his college eligibility. 


You have quite the connection to this venue, actually. It was just two years ago you swept the Easter Bowl titles at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Does it feel like two years has elapsed since then?

MICHELSEN: To be honest, I remember winning doubles with my best friend and then winning singles the next day like it was yesterday. It does not feel like it's been two years, but over the last two years, I've put in the work to be back here for the men's event. I'm super happy to be here.

On that note, last year you played qualies. This year, you’re in the main draw on the merit of your ranking. How special is it for Indian Wells to be the place marking your Masters 1000 main-draw debut?

MICHELSEN: Very special. I think it's everyone's favorite Masters 1000. It's my favorite personally. I grew up very close to it, so being back here is incredible. I didn't really come too much as a kid, but now I get to come as a professional, which is really cool.

What did you learn in 2023 to take more steps forward, through your third-round showing at the Australian Open and first Top 10 win in Los Cabos?

MICHELSEN: I won a lot of matches in 2023. I played about 90 matches last year. So I think just playing the amount of matches against these guys and Challengers and trying to find a way to take my ability to the next level has helped.

You obviously traveled as a junior, but curious when you've been in more cities, more time zones, has anything like your sleeping patterns or food palette evolved in the last year as you transition to ATP tour life?

MICHELSEN: Food palette's the same. I still love the sweets (smiling). I eat the same things I have for most of my life, so nothing's really changed there.


Are you someone who consumes tennis whenever you can? Study film? Seek inspiration from other players?

MICHELSEN: Yeah, I watch a lot of film for sure. Whenever I'm playing someone, I go back on YouTube or Tennis Channel or TennisTV to go watch my opponents play. I watch tennis for fun when I'm not playing. I'm always watching and consuming tennis content.

There seems to be a good vibe between the group that qualified for the ATP NextGen Finals last year. Just some thoughts on your generation and the impact you guys are already making, from you and Jakub to Joao and the two Arthurs, and just being part of that group?

MICHELSEN: Everyone you listed are all really good guys and it's a lot of fun. You can buddy up with them in the locker room and it's a lot of fun to be around those guys. I wish there was another American that was close. Ethan Quinn is my buddy, but besides him, I wish there was more Americans. The group we have is awesome.

As you've become more of a familiar face in the locker room on tour, who have you found to be approachable or easy to connect with?

MICHELSEN: I would say Ben Shelton. He's a very nice guy. Ever since I got Top 100 and I've been around him at the same events, he's been very kind, and so is his dad. They're a great group of people.

Lastly, your coin collecting. Does that hobby extend to searching for additions abroad? U.S. coins only? Is it an activity you try and work into your schedule while on the road?

MICHELSEN: I honestly haven't done it in a couple of months and I probably should get back to it. That's a good reminder actually. It is mostly U.S. coins, but I think it would be a good idea to start international. I'm going everywhere, so I might as well.