Dubai: American Rajeev Ram teamed up with Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury to be second time lucky as they dumped unseeded Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (4), 6-3 to become the men’s doubles champions at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.
The first set was close with neither pair giving anything away, but it was Ram and Salisbury who looked more focused as they won the tiebreaker 7-4 in 49 minutes. The second set too was close, at least initially. but once the duo broke in the fourth and Salisbury held on love for a 4-1 lead, there was no looking back.
Coming together as a new partnership, Ram and Salisbury had reached a final for the first time together since pairing up at the start of this season. In Friday’s semi-finals, the pair had ousted two-time defending champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, while to their credit, McLachlan and Struff had knocked off top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the quarter-finals.
But Ram and Fulham supporter Salisbury were simply the better pair as they took an hour and 22 minutes to win their first doubles crown after two earlier failed bids. The duo’s first-ever tournament in Sydney had ended with them making it all the way to the final.
Salisbury, in particular, had been very effective in his service and the statistics said it all as the London boy lost just two points on his serve on Saturday. “I think the service was the key. I doubt we dropped serve even once the whole week,” Salisbury said.
“I think today, even if we lost this match, we don’t think we could have done any more as we played really well. We are absolutely delighted with this one as it’s our first one together,” he added.
US-based Ram, who was instrumental in initiating talks to bring the partnership together at the back end of last season, admitted that the key to their relatively-new success is that they complement each other. “He’s [Salisbury] definitely a super athlete on court and he covers a lot of space. I think we both served quite well. I don’t think we actually faced a breakpoint all week, which is pretty good,” he smiled.
“For me, as a team, I think the goal is to make the World Tour Finals. Obviously, that’s sort of the pinnacle of the sport, to play in those Tour Finals. I think if we keep going, having a good year, it’s definitely a possibility for us,” Salisbury said.
Result (Double finals)
Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury bt Ben McLachlan/Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (4), 6-3.