Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury have qualified for the season ending Nitto ATP World Tour Finals for the fifth time in a row. It wasn’t looking all that likely five months into the season though, with the pair struggling to get the big results required. But Ram and Salisbury kept at it, finally turning the season around with a final in Toronto, and then the US Open title.
The pair won the ATP 500 event in Vienna last week to officially secure their berth, and are now in Paris-Bercy for the Rolex Paris Masters (quite a quick turnaround huh!). Ram shares his thoughts on the season so far, upcoming Turin tournament, and expectations from Paris.
Q) You won the title in Vienna. How tough is it to come back with such a quick turnaround. You have a high and then two days later you’re playing a first round again. How tough is that?
RR – It’s actually really tough actually especially when Vienna is not a small tournament by any means and so we’re very happy to win. But that’s sort of the nature of tennis and how it works sometimes. One of the things you have to figure out to do is to really get yourself motivated for the next week.
But you know it helps since Bercy is a huge tournament and we know we have a week off after this so we’re going to try and give it our best rep in the first round.
Q) You’ve qualified for Turin for the fifth consecutive year so that’s a huge achievement and you’ll also be defending your title there. Any extra pressure?
RR – Yeah it was a little different this year. You know in the past four years we were able to qualify quite early and all of this year it was very unsure and then we had a great run through the US hard court season and which basically was the reason we qualified more or less.
So it was very different but I’m super happy and super proud to go back there again. We’ve done well there in the past. Obviously winning last year but even before we made the final and so it’s a place where we played well at that tournament.
So yeah there’s maybe some pressure to defend but more than pressure there’s good memories so we’re looking forward to playing again.
Q) And talking about your season you just mentioned that it wasn’t as rosy as previous years so the first four or five months especially were tough by your own standards because you didn’t win a title. How did you manage to turn it around?
RR – Yeah. Especially after so many successful years. I mean, you know, it’s not always gonna be like it has been for the four years for us, you know It’s not always gonna be just sort of Slam finals and winning big tournaments and this year wasn’t any injury issues either.
We had some other issues and so you know played into maybe not having our best year, but started to really turn it around kind of I felt like before Wimbledon even though Wimbledon didn’t go great, it started to feel better about and then into the summer on the hard court or we’ve always done pretty well.
And I think you know Toronto – making a final there was a really big result to show that the work was paying off and we were close. But kind of when we got to get got a rolling it was the US Open, the place where we’ve done so well and it was just being able to draw on some of that confidence from the previous years and end up winning it.
Q) To end, just a few words on Bops (Bopanna’s incredible season so far)
RR – I said it before when I did a few interviews, even on court at the US Open, I mean, the guy never stops amazing me. One thing after the next, he’s made another Slam final this year. He’s back on the top five. He’s qualified for Turin. He’s done all these things he hasn’t done in many years and maybe, you know, a lot of people, me included, might have thought he wouldn’t be able to do again.
It’s not really a knock against him. It’s just what happens when you get older and, you know, he’s defied all of that. I’ll speak again about the incredible gesture of sportsmanship that he showed at the US Open in the final there.
I mean, that was something I never have experienced before and, you know, he’s one of the only guys, if not the only guy that would do something like that, I think. Yeah, wish him all the best. I hope every time, you know, I can’t win a tournament that he wins it.
That’s true here. That’s true for Turin. If it’s not Joe and me, I hope he wins it.