By Ros Satar at the Nitto ATP Finals in London
- Joe Salisbury represents the sole British interest in this year’s Nitto ATP Finals
- Together with partner Rajeev Ram they have a shot at the doubles semi-finals with a win
- Britwatch Sports caught up with Salisbury in Indian Wells earlier this year.
LONDON, UK – Having had one or other Murray brother representing British interests at the O2 in the past, Putney lad Joe Salisbury is flying the flag as he and Rajeev Ram bid for a spot in the semi-finals.
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With Andy Murray on the comeback trail, and Jamie Murray having taken the risk of swapping partners mid-season and thus making it hard to secure a spot in London this year, British interest at the Nitto ATP Finals have rested with Joe Salisbury.
Originally from just down the river in Putney, his path to London with partner Rajeev Ram started a lot earlier this year with a win in Dubai, and their title in Vienna saw them London bound in their first season.
Britwatch Sports caught up with Salisbury first back in March at Indian Wells, and we talked about his journey into the world of doubles. Like many of the younger players, Salisbury was still plying his trade in singles, as he explained.
“It was nearly two and half years ago – end of the summer of 2016, I think when I stopped playing singles. I was playing Challengers and sort of working up from there.
“I think when I stopped playing singles, my doubles ranking was outside 200 so had to slowly work my way up and obviously playing the Challengers you’re not getting as many points so you can’t sort of suddenly make a jump up, unless you somehow get into the bigger tournaments, which I was lucky to get that opportunity at Wimbledon. Get a lot more points, then make the jump up the rankings.”
As has been the way for players, there is a lot of chopping and changing before settling with a more long-term partner which helps in terms of stability and focus. So how did he and Ram get together?
“Basically just asked him. We didn’t know each other that well. We played each other a couple of times. Obviously we knew each other. I was just look at different partners, because I’d played with a lot of different guys last year and I wanted to get a set partner for this year. Especially now that I knew I could get in to all the tournaments that I want to with my ranking and with someone similarly ranked.
“So yeah towards the end of the season around my last tournament in Vienna, where I asked him if he wanted to play. Had a few guys that were options, a few guys asked me, but he was sort of at the top of my list and he wasn’t sure yet whether he wanted to play. I guess he had some other options as well but then a couple of weeks after that, I think after he finished in Paris, when he won in Paris he came back to me and he wanted to play.”
They had some time together in the pre-season but really only started playing together in Australia. They had a great start, reaching the finals in Brisbane and the third round at the Australian Open. Their first title came a couple of months later in Dubai, where they enjoyed the focus of being presented with their trophies, sharing the stage with the singles trophy presentation.
“It was a great week. It was my first time going to Dubai. I mean for me this is the first time playing most of these tournaments because I kind of made a jump up the rankings in the summer last year. So, it’s all pretty new to me.
“We both played well from start to finish. felt like we got better each match and we ended up going through fairly straight-forwardly. We didn’t get broken the whole week. We won all our matches straight sets. Yeah, it all came together.
“I think it was good having [both presentations together]. Was nice for us, especially with Roger [Federer] winning his 100th, to have the presentation ceremony with them after the singles. That is a small thing which definitely does help the profile. Because even if people weren’t there to see doubles, they see us up there after the singles as well. Any extra exposure that the doubles and the doubles players get is obviously a good thing.”
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Fast forward to the end of the year, and their debut performance was a sobering one with a straight sets defeat in their first match, and a lot of critical self-reflection. However after the second match, coming back from a set down to keep themselves in the tournament.
After the match he said: “Obviously main feeling is just really happy to get the win, It was a tough match, again didn’t get off to a great start. I knew it would be tough. we lost a close one to these guys in Paris and both serve really well so you don’t get too many chances.
“But I think we showed the spirit and the fight that we’ve had all year. Our support of each other and our team work. We knew we had a chance, we just stayed in there, got the break in the second set and then we played a good tiebreak.
“I was very disappointed the last match. I just tried to move on from it pretty quickly. we all have those days where we’re not playing well and obviously it was my first time out there, the occasion that definitely affected me a bit, but it was better today.”
Ram continued: “I think we have a good team around us that can help us with that I don’t think it’s just on me or him. I think we all had our inputs and I think there are things I could have done better in the first match too. It wasn’t all on him so I think we just looked at it as a whole.
“It’s a team effort out there and I think we addressed some of those things, about how we could maybe do things better as a unit, and I think it’s one of the reasons we were able to come out, especially after losing a first set today, getting a scrappy win. I think those are the ones that really feel good because you know it’s great when you play well and blitz through but those 50/50 ones that you get can really feel good.”
They will face 2017 finalists Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo with the winner gaining a place in the semi-finals.
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