Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury maintained their perfect record at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals Saturday when they overcame top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 7-6(7), 6-4 to reach the final in Turin.
The American-British team went 3-0 in the round-robin stage and produced another inspired performance at the Pala Alpitour to earn their 36th tour-level win of the season together.
In a high-quality match that twisted one way and then the other, the second seeds produced their best level at crucial times. Ram crushed backhand winners down the line on return, while Salisbury showed great touch to flick an array of winners from all angles throughout the one-hour, 39-minute semi-final.
“We are very happy to be through,” Salisbury said. “I feel we are pretty good at handling whatever any situation we are in. It was tough not closing it out more straightforward in the [first set] tie-break, but we fought hard and got it done eventually. We then stayed focused and played pretty smart and held onto our serve well. We are pretty happy with the performance.”
”It is something I have worked really hard on,” Ram said when asked about his returning. “It is huge to keep in games and matches and I think it is my most improved area, so I am happy it paid off today.”
Ram and Salisbury are aiming to go one step further at the prestigious year-end event this year, having lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the championship match last season. The American-British team will play Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic or Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara in Sunday's final.
They now lead Koolhof and Skupski 3-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, having defeated the Dutch-British tandem in the US Open final in September.
Ram and Salisbury are seeking their fourth tour-level title of the season at the prestigious season finale in Italy. The duo triumphed at ATP Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati.
With the pressure on, Ram and Salisbury flew out of the blocks in the semi-final. They soared into a 3-0 lead in the first set, before Koolhof and Skupski battled back, stepping up their intensity to level at 3-3. They then saved one set point on serve at 4-5, with the opener eventually moving to a tie-break. In a dramatic conclusion, Koolhof and Skupski saved a further five set points in the tie-break, including four from 2/6, before Ram and Salisbury finally claimed the opener on their seventh chance.
The second seeds then kept their focus in the second set, saving the one break point they faced to advance.
Koolhof and Skupski were honoured as the 2022 year-end ATP Doubles No. 1 team presented by Pepperstone on Thursday in Turin after enjoying a standout season that saw them win seven tour-level trophies, including ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Madrid, Montreal and Paris.