Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury booked their places in the title match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Saturday with a comeback win at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.
The second-seeded American-British pair will aim to capture their third title of the season after they defeated top-seeded Croatian Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-4 in one hour and 34 minutes. It was their second straight victory in six matches against Mektic and Pavic this year.
“It felt really good to win, especially in this tournament, the biggest ATP tournament of the year,” said Salisbury. “The way we did it, coming from a set down and not playing our best. We were really up against it and we showed a lot of character, a lot of fighting spirit to stick in there [and] believe that we could turn it around and play our best tennis at the end.”
Ram and Salisbury will next play third-seeded Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the 2019 season finale champions, who beat fourth-seeded Spaniard Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in Saturday’s night session. They are tied 1-1 against Herbert and Mahut in their ATP Head2Head series, saving two match points in a 6-7(7), 6-0, 13-11 win on Wednesday in Red Group action.[FOLLOW FINALS]
In a clash of small margins, Mektic and Pavic gained the first break in the third game when Salisbury double-faulted on a deciding Deuce point. While Ram and Salisbury won 63 per cent of the Croatians second-service points in the 34-minute opener, they were unable to convert their lone break point chance at 1-2. Pavic, who was a continual threat on return of serve, was able to keep his cool to close out a love hold with an ace.
Knowing they needed to raise their games, Ram and Salisbury did just that in the second-set. In an incredible serving display, Ram won 20 consecutive first-service points overall and it was the American’s influence that took the encounter to a Match Tie-break, which they dominated for their 44th win of 2021.
Mektic and Pavic, the year-end No. 1s in the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings, have a 61-13 match record on the season with nine titles.