Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram defend US Open doubles title with hard-fought win

·4-min read

Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram became just the second team in the open era to successfully defend their US Open men’s doubles title.

With Neal Skupski and his Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof on the other side of the net, there was guaranteed to be a British winner, and it was Londoner Salisbury and American Ram who came out on top of a tight contest, winning 7-6 (4) 7-5.

It is a third grand slam title together for Ram and Salisbury, who also won the Australian Open in 2020, and they follow in the footsteps of Australian greats Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, the last team to win back-to-back titles in New York in 1995 and 1996.

The victory also means Salisbury, who has also won two mixed doubles titles, holds on to the world number number one ranking. Skupski would have overtaken him had he and Koolhof lifted the trophy.

Salisbury said: “It’s pretty crazy. I can’t quite believe that we’re standing here again. It’s so special to be playing in this incredible stadium and to have that piece of history, to have won this twice in a row, is amazing.”

It has been an up and down season for the world number one pair, with Salisbury troubled by a back problem and a few painful defeats, not least having held five match points in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Salisbury said: “It’s very sweet. Especially how we have ended the last couple of slams, we had match points in the French Open and Wimbledon and lost both those matches.

“To come through here and to get the win and to come back from some tough situations in some matches makes it extra special. I think we are a bit shocked that we have been able to win this twice in a row and especially to back up what we did last year.”

Both British players showed their respects to the Queen, Salisbury with a black armband and Skupski a black ribbon on his shirt.

As expected, there was little to choose between the teams throughout on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The first set was especially tight, with a nervous first game from Skupski on serve in his first men’s doubles slam final the only slight opening until the tie-break.

Koolhof and Skupski, who have won six titles in a brilliant season, looked to have created a solid lead at 4-1 but some fine returning from Salisbury and Ram helped them reel off six points in a row to take the set.

The first break came in the third game of the second set, when consistent pressure from Koolhof and Skupski saw Ram drop serve, but he and Salisbury hit straight back.

The pressure on the second seeds was growing and, with Skupski serving at 5-6, they set up a first match point, taking it on a Salisbury smash.

Skupski felt he and Koolhof did not find their best form, saying: “I think it was really close, fine margins. I don’t think the tennis was amazing. I think you get that in finals anyway. There’s a bit more nerves.

Joe Salisbury (right) and Rajeev Ram celebrate
Joe Salisbury (right) and Rajeev Ram celebrate (Matt Rourke/AP)

“But I feel like on my side I didn’t perform at my best or maybe the team didn’t perform the way we can, like we did over the two weeks.

“But Joe and Rajeev, they play well and they don’t kind of let you play well. That’s why they’re the champions and also have been at the top of the rankings for some time now.

“On a personal note, very disappointing, but also great to make my first grand slam doubles final on the men’s side.”

By a quirk of fate, all four players represent countries playing in the same Davis Cup group in Glasgow next week and both partnerships could find themselves on opposite sides of the net.