Ram/Salisbury Capture Maiden Masters 1000 Title in Toronto
Third seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury finally got the better of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic on Sunday, defeating the Croatians 6-3, 4-6, 10-3 to capture their first ATP Masters 1000 title as a team at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.
The American-British tandem had suffered four straight defeats to Mektic and Pavic this year prior to the championship match in Toronto. They lost to the top seeds at Masters 1000 events in Miami and Rome - with the latter a final - as well as at Wimbledon and the Viking International Eastbourne.
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However, they hit eight aces and won 90 per cent (27/30) of their first-service points to gain revenge and record their victory in 83 minutes. It is the fourth tour-level title Ram and Salisbury have won together but first this year. They have enjoyed runs to the final at the Australian Open, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and the Viking International Eastbourne this season.
”It was great to have another battle with Mektic and Pavic,” Salisbury said. “Thank you to Rajeev [Ram] on being such an amazing partner. We have had a good year together. We have had some tough losses, and this is our first title together this year and first Masters 1000 title together, so this one is really special.””It is pretty special when you can win at one of these Masters 1000 events,” Ram said. “This is our third yeah and we have been close. We lost in the final at Rome and lost in the semi-finals at this tournament a few years ago, so it is good to get through it. We worked really hard to give us more opportunities like this and we were able to produce a really high level.”
Ram and Salisbury made a fast start at the Aviva Centre, breaking in the fourth game to move 3-1 ahead as they returned with great depth and closed the net effectively. They were strong behind their first serve, losing just one point (15/16). After successfully fending off the two break points they faced in the set to move 5-2 ahead, Ram and Salisbury then held again to lead.
Mektic and Pavic improved on return in the second set, and after being unable to convert any of the three break points they had in the second and sixth games, they capitalised at 5-4 to level. Ram and Salisbury raised their level in the Match Tie-break though, sealing their victory when Salisbury struck a backhand winner. It is just the second Match Tie-break Mektic and Pavic have lost this season, holding a 17-2 record.
Mektic and Pavic joined forces this year and were aiming to capture their 10th tour-level title of a dominant season on Sunday. The Croatians trophy haul includes three Masters 1000 crowns, Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.They became the first doubles team to book their spot at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals in July and have recorded 56 victories this season, holding a 9-3 record in championship matches.