Ram/Salisbury Secure Semi-final Place, Face Mektic/Pavic Saturday
The second seeds defeated fifth-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-5, 2-6, 11-9 in one hour and 36 minutes to top the Red Group with a perfect 3-0 record. The result means that third-seeded Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the 2019 titlists, will finish in second place in the round-robin group.
Ram and Salisbury, with a 43-16 match record this season, will now prepare to face Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who have won nine titles in 2021 and finished at year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings, on Saturday. Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos will challenge Herbert and Mahut in the second semi-final.
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Two moments of great skill from Salisbury turned the first set, which ended with a Ram forehand winner down the middle, in favour of the American-British pair. Leading 6-5, Salisbury first snapped back a high smash at close quarters, then, two points later, he struck a backhand winner down the line on Cabal’s serve. By winning the 42-minute first set, Ram and Salisbury guaranteed their place in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The tables turned at 1-1 in the second set, when Farah got hot in returning Salisbury’s serve and the Colombians broke after Ram couldn’t poach a volley cleanly at 15/40. Farah later found the crosscourt angle on a backhand to break Salisbury’s serve for a 5-2 advantage.
As the Colombians started a Match Tie-break, full of momentum shifts, high on confidence, Salisbury returned to play after on-court treatment for what appeared to be a left hip complaint. Ram and Salisbury ultimately could not convert a 9/7 lead, but at the third time of asking — after terrific scrambling for Salisbury at 9/9 — the team recorded their 43rd victory of the season to top the Red Group.
Cabal and Farah, who had been bidding to reach the semi-finals at the season finale for the third time (2018-19), have a 37-20 match record in 2021. They won titles at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Mektic/Pavic) in March, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Krawietz/Tecau) in April and at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna (d. Ram/Salisbury) three weeks ago.