Michael Mmoh who is the son of former Nigerian tennis star, Tony Mmoh is afraid he will wake up and realise his run to the Australian Open third round was just a dream.
Born in Saudi Arabia, where he lived until the age of 13, Michael Mmoh has both Irish and Nigerian ancestry. Michael’s father Tony Mmoh was also a professional tennis player who represented Nigeria and reached a career-high ranking of 105. His mother was born in Ireland and is also an Australian citizen. Mmoh’s parents named him after basketball superstar Michael Jordan.
He began playing tennis at age 3. He trains at the IMG Acade. Two days ago the 25-year-old was watching an NFL game on TV in his hotel and ready to head to the airport after losing in qualifying and having what he considered ‘zero’ chance of playing in the first round.
But fate stepped in and injuries to other players meant the world’s 109th ranked player got a late call-up and on Thursday he followed up a win against French qualifier Laurent Lokoli by knocking out Germany’s 12th seed Alexander Zverev.
“I don’t know if I’m going to finally wake up or something. It just doesn’t seem real,” Mmoh, who has never previously surpassed the second round at a Grand Slam, told reporters.
“The past 48 hours has been a complete whirlwind from going from being ready to go back home, booking a flight, packing my bags. I was supposed to leave yesterday.
“Now I’m here, and I just had the best win of my career. It just doesn’t seem real.”
Asked how events had transpired in his favour, Mmoh explained: “I was talking to my fiancee, you know, she was like, why don’t you fly out tonight?
“I was in the middle of watching the Bucs and Cowboys. I was fully locked in on that game.
“Then all of a sudden I got a call from the ATP guy. I have never answered a phone call so fast in my life. First ring, and I was on it. He was, like, yeah, you’re next on court 13.”
Having gathered his kit together and raced to Melbourne Park for his match against Lokoli, Mmoh might have been content with his fortune. Instead he has milked it to the maximum.
He lost the first set against former world number two Zverev on a tiebreak but hit back to win 6-7(1) 6-4 6-3 6-2, setting up a third round clash against fellow American J.J Wolf.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to say I’m an unlucky person for the rest of my life,” Mmoh said.
Mmoh is part of an American men’s charge in Melbourne with eight of them through to the last 32, including Jenson Brooksby who took out second seed Casper Ruud on Thursday.
He said a chat with compatriot Frances Tiafoe before his clash with Zverev had given him belief.
“He told me, like, you’re going to be in a position to win this match. It’s just, are you going to seize the moment?
“I wanted to make sure that I did do that once I got in that position.”
His unexpected run in Melbourne means Mmoh will have to wait a little longer to be with his fiancee, to whom he proposed shortly before leaving for Australia.
“We definitely have got to celebrate that moment together when we’re back, along with the engagement,” he said.