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2023 ATP Finals: Ram returns to doubles SFs in title defense with Salisbury

Arthur Kapetanakis | November 16, 2023


After a perfect 5-0 performance en route to the Nitto ATP Finals title last year in Turin, Rajeev Ram and British partner Joe Salisbury have made another undefeated start at this year's season finale. The three-time defending US Open champions are well on their way to retaining their Turin crown, with their progress into the semifinals secured as group-leaders after two matches.

 

After opening their 2023 campaign Monday with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Matthew Ebden and Rohan Bopanna, Ram/Salisbury clinched first place in the Red Group with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 victory against second seeds Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof on Wednesday.

The American-British team has lost serve just once in their two matches. They cruised through their opener, saving the only break point against them, but needed a late surge to defeat Koolhof and Skupski in a rematch of their 2022 Turin semifinal.

 

From 3-5 in the match tiebreak, Ram and Salisbury won seven of the match's final nine points to secure their place in the knockout rounds.

 

The pair reached the title match at the ATP Finals in 2021 before their trophy triumph last year. But their ticket to Turin was not punched until late this season, their US Open triumph proving crucial in earning them the sixth seed at the prestigious event. They followed their New York run with another title in Vienna and also reached the Rolex Paris Masters semis ahead of Turin.

Ram and Salisbury will cap their group campaign on Friday against eighth-seeded Australians (and reigning Aussie Open champions) Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler, with significant ranking points and prize money still on the line.

 

Austin Krajicek and Croatia's Ivan Dodig, the top seeds in Turin, narrowly missed out on a semifinal berth following a heartbreaking 4-6, 6-3, 15-13 defeat to Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Thursday.

 

That group-stage finale essentially served as a quarterfinal, with both teams entering at 1-1, knowing a win would see them through to the knockout rounds. Krajicek and Dodig were one point away from claiming the crucial victory, but they missed out on a match point at 12-11 the match tiebreak and fell to defeat when their opponents converted on the fifth match point of their own.

 

Krajicek and Dodig, who were competing at the ATP Finals for the second straight year, won five titles together in 2023, including the Roland Garros crown. That Paris run earned Krajicek his maiden Grand Slam trophy and also lifted the American to doubles World No. 1 for the first time.

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