Speaking after his first doubles Grand Slam title, Rajeev Ram opens up on the tough couple of years where he lost his father Dr Raghav Ram to pancreatic cancer, how his father shaped up his career, thoughts on the final, the Olympic spot and on the upcoming tourneys.
How do you review your journey? This is your 58th Grand Slam main draw doubles and finally you have the winner’s title.
I played until 2016 prioritising singles. I was ranked high enough to get into the main draw in doubles but it was not something that I focused on. It feels like I started my doubles career in 2017.
My first double main draw was probably in 2007 or 2008. I don’t think it feels like that, that I’ve been trying and trying and trying. I’ve played them and so to finally win, feels great but it was not the same intensity of doubles as it has been in the last 3 or 4 years.
What do you think makes both of you such a good pair?
Joe does not show it outwardly but he is incredibly competitive. He has the ability to rise to the occasion which is special. He is an incredible athlete too.
One thing that we’ve become really good partners to each other. There is a bit of trust there and we are not afraid to say things to each other. The open mindedness in general has been pretty good.
What are the circumstances which led you to skip the mixed doubles?
I was a bit sick in the off-season. Caught a bug and was unwell for a couple of weeks. I did not have the off-season that I would have liked. I came to Australia very unprepared.
I didn’t feel great at the ATP Cup. I made the call there that it was not great for my health and for my partners as well, so I decided to opt out.
What was your game plan coming into the final?
We knew we were ready. We had a very tough match in the semis and getting through the way we did helped us. It really made it all about our energy, the attitude and the competitiveness to push us through in this match.
We had about 10 break points in the first set and we leveraged only 1. However right from the set go, we were on it and Joe was really leading us on the returns side – we didn’t have a specific game plan but the focus was on maintaining the attitude and the energy.
What was it like growing up in Midwest in Carmel, Indiana?
It is not a hotbed of tennis. I have lived there since I was 12 years old. I didn’t ever go to any tennis academy as such. I have had the same coach since I was 16 years old. Tennis was a glorified hobby till I was a late teen. I did pretty well in the Juniors but never travelled like some of these other Juniors do.
I took different steps. I went to college for some time. In my late tennis, I figured I could make a life out of Tennis.
I live in California now but I call Indiana my home.
You had a tough couple of years
My father passed away in April of last year with pancreatic cancer. When something like that happens, it shakes you. I’m an only child. Coming from the cultural background that I do, family is quite tight. We did a lot of things together.
I got lucky to be married to a great person in 2016. Her’s is a big family and they’ve been a big support to both my mother and me. My mom was even at the ATP Cup in Perth.
Obviously I would have wished that my dad had seen this title win but I hopefully have done well to have made him feel proud.
You have almost sealed the Olympic spot. Thoughts on that.
As Joe Salisbury said, if you are in the top-10, you get to pick your partner. We were really focused on our trip here to Australia and so I haven’t thought about it as much. I am lucky to come from a country of many great players, so it will be interesting to see where we fall – who is available and who wants to go and so on.
Globalisation benefits ....need we say more Rajeev Ram from USA and Astra Sharma from Australia https://t.co/et0JXhleA5— Jagdish Mitra (@jagdishmitra) January 26, 2019
Thoughts on the farewell tour of the Bryan brothers.
They are the big reason for where doubles is today. It keeps growing. Being American, I have been lucky enough to play them many many times. I am hoping that the rest of us can share the load that they have been carrying for so long. They are a real asset to the game.
What is your schedule like?
We are scheduled to play in Rotterdam next but we have not decided yet. Seemingly our next tournament looks like Dubai, we had a great time there last year. Then the US Hard Court season kicks off in Indian Wells.
Dear @RajeevRam , Heartiest Congratulations from Bombay, India for your 1st Slam Doubles 🎾🏆👏🍾 Was there to see You & Joe win Dubai last year..Hoping to see u guys again this year & this time as GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS 😁👍— FED Maniac 🎾🐐🇨🇭 (@1502amit) February 2, 2020