Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury suffered a heartbreak at the Nitto ATP Finals last season. A year later, the second seeded put in an impressive performance on Sunday to ensure they didn’t fall at the final hurdle again, beating Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to become undefeated champions in Turin.
In a high-quality final, the US-British tandem was sharp from the first to the last point, beating the Croatians 7-6(4), 6-4 to finish their season in style in northern Italy.
Salisbury is the first Briton to win the Nitto ATP Finals doubles title, while Ram is the 18th American to take the crown. The pair has earned 1,500 Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings points and $930,300 as undefeated champions, the largest doubles pay day in history.
“That’s probably one of our best games, one of our best games as a team,” Salisbury said. “I think we’re so proud of everything we’ve done this week. We’ve been through some tough situations, but we’ve stayed together all the way. [I’m] so happy, I can’t believe we achieved this.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Ram said. “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 out there. He saves his best for the greatest moments. I am certainly so proud of us, a team.”
Ram and Salisbury, who lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in last year’s final, have now captured nine tour-level titles as a team. In an outstanding season, the pair won ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati as they lifted their third Grand Slam trophy at the US Open, with a 37-14 record on the year.
With their 85th minute win, Ram and Salisbury have improved to 3-4 in their ATP Head2Head series against Mektic and Pavic, having also beaten the fourth seed in the semi-finals in Turin last year.
Both teams were strong serving in the first set, with limited chances coming back as the opener moved to a tie-break. Holding the set’s lone break point at 1-1, Ram and Salisbury increased their depth on their return in the tie-break and stayed firmly overhead, sending volleys and smashes to get ahead.
The second seed then immediately struck 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 through their service games, winning 84 percent (16/19) of the points behind their first throw to seal an emotional victory.
“I didn’t think too much about that,” said Salisbury as he became the first British champion at the season finale. “Of course that’s great to achieve, but it was mostly about us as a team, the two of us and everyone supporting us. We have so many people behind us. It’s just a huge team effort and we’re so happy with everything we’ve achieved this week have done.”
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 sure is pretty cool,” Ram said when asked if he could be on the list of US champions. “There have been so many great American doubles players and so many great players who have won this. It’s definitely an honor to be on that trophy with them.”
Mektic and Pavic were in Turin this week looking for their sixth tour level title of the year. They triumphed together at an ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, while also collecting trophies in Geneva, at The Queen’s Club in London, in Eastbourne and Astana.
Mektic was looking to win his second Nitto ATP Finals title, after triumphing in 2020 with Wesley Koolhof.
“Congratulations Rajeev and Joe,” said Mektic at the awards ceremony. “You were really good today. Congratulations and enjoy your moment. I also want to thank Mate and our whole box, we had a great week.”