Second seeds Rajiv Ram and Joe Salisbury put in impressive performances to defeat Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavić and claim the men’s doubles title in the ATP Finals, here on Sunday.
In a high-quality final, the American-British tandem was sharp from the first point to the last point, defeating the Croats 7-6 (4), 6-4 to end their season in style in Northern Italy.
Salisbury is the first Briton to win an ATP Finals doubles title, while Ram is the 18th American to win the title. The pair earned 1,500 doubles ATP ranking points and $930,300 as undefeated champions, the biggest doubles payday in history.
“It’s probably going to be one of our best games, one of our best games as a team. I think we’re very proud of everything we’ve done this week. We’ve been through some tough situations, but we’ve stuck together all the way. I’m very happy and can’t believe we made it,” Salisbury said. that “.
“I don’t know what to say. My partner played out of this world today, but I think that’s what you have to do and that’s why he’s one of the best. He saves his best for the biggest moments. I’m very proud of us as a team for sure,” Ram said.
Ram and Salisbury, who lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in last year’s final, have claimed nine tour-level titles as a team.
In a breakout season, the pair lifted the ATP Masters 1000 crown in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati, while lifting their third Grand Slam title at the US Open, posting a 37-14 record on the year.
With their 85-minute win, Ram and Salisbury improved to 3-4 in the head-to-head ATP Series against Mektic and Pavić, after they defeated the fourth seeds in the semi-finals in Turin last year.
Both teams were strong on serve in the first set, with limited chances on the comeback as the opener went into a tiebreaker. Ram and Salisbury, who saved the only break point in the set at 1-1, added depth on the comeback in the tie-break and stayed strong over the head, hitting volleys and volleys to go further.
The second seed struck right away at the start of the second set to gain more control, taking advantage of two double faults from Pavic to break. From there, Ram and Salisbury raced into service games, winning 84 per cent (16/19) points behind their first delivery to seal an emotional win.
“I didn’t think much of it,” Salisbury said when he became the first British champion at the end of the season.
“Obviously, that’s a nice thing to achieve, but it’s been about us as a team, us and everyone who supports us. We have a lot of people behind us. It’s just a tremendous team effort and we’re very pleased with everything we’ve done this week.”
Ram is the 18th American to win the doubles title at the year-end event, joining Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Peter Fleming, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.
“It’s definitely amazing. There have been many great American doubles players and many great players who have won this. It’s an honor to be with them on this trophy for sure,” Ram said when asked about joining the list of American champions.
Meanwhile, Mektic and Pavić were chasing their sixth Tour-level title this week in Turin. Together, they have triumphed at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, while also lifting prizes in Geneva, at The Queen’s Club in London, in Eastbourne and Astana.
Mektic was aiming for his second ATP Finals title, having triumphed with Wesley Koolhoff in 2020.
“Congratulations to Rajeev and Joe. You were really good today. Congratulations and enjoy your moment. I also want to thank Matty and our entire fund, we had an amazing week,” Mektic said during the award ceremony.
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