Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury successfully defended their US Open crown on Friday when they defeated runner-up Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 7-6(4) and 7-5 to win their third Grand Slam title as a team.
In a showdown at Arthur Ashe Stadium that determined who finished the tournament as the individual No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings, it was the top tiers who emerged and performed.
Britain’s Salisbury, who has now won 11 tour-level titles, remains the world’s number 1 after the win. Skupski would have passed his compatriot and climbed to first place if he had won his seventh trophy of the year and first major trophy with Dutchman Koolhof.
Ram and Salisbury effectively closed the net, attacking the second serve and rallied for 1/4 in the first set tie-break before taking the victory after one hour and 57 minutes and improving to 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“I really have no words for it,” Ram said during the awards ceremony. “I came here the first year this stadium opened and played Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day when I was 14 and watched Sampras win this tournament. I looked at James [Blake] played a great match against Andre Agassi in 2005. I saw Andy Roddick win this tournament and Venus and Serena. To be a small part of that as an American, I don’t even know what to say. Thank you so much guys for coming out.”
With their win, the American-British tandem has become the second team, after Koolhof and Skupski, to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in November. They are also only the second team to defend their crown in New York. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde won the trophy in 1995 and 1996.
“It’s pretty crazy. I can’t quite believe we’re here again,” Salisbury said. “It’s so special to play for all of you in this incredible stadium. To have that piece of history, it’s great to win this twice in a row.”
In a tight first set, breakpoint opportunities were limited as both teams performed strongly on serve. Ram and Salisbury won 88 percent (21/24) of the points behind their first delivery and found extra gear when needed, winning six points in a row from 1/4 in the tie-break to the lead.
Skupski popped a return winner to give the second seeds an early break at the start of the second set, but the top seeds reacted immediately at 2-2. Ram and Salisbury continued on the attack and broke again in the 12th game to seal their win.
Ram and Salisbury, who defeated Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah to reach the championship game, leave Flushing Meadows with a 17-2 record during the event and a 31-12 record on the season. The 2020 Australian Open champions won ATP Masters 1000 trophies in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati, as they advanced to the semifinals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.