Joe Salisbury, 29 and American Rajeev Ram won their second Grand Slam doubles title in New York at the weekend, the British/American pairing coming from behind to defeat another Brit, Jamie Murray and his partner, the Brazilian Bruno Soares, in three sets.
To have won this with Rajeev is amazing. He has been an incredible partner. We look forward to hopefully getting some more titles together. Joe Salsibury
“A dream come true,” said Salisbury of their 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory, one in which even by their own admission, they hadn’t played as consistently as they would have liked.
To have won this with Rajeev is amazing,” Salisbury said. “He has been an incredible partner,” he added. “We look forward to hopefully getting some more titles together.”
Local favourite Ram who, like Salisbury, honed his tennis on the tough American collegiate circuit, came through rounds one and two without dropping a set but then were pushed to the limit in the third round, edging out the 13th seeded pairing of Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Rohan Bopanna of India in three hours, 6-7 6-4 7-6. That paved the way for another close encounter in the quarters which saw them save four match points against unseeded Aussies Max Purcell and Luke Saville in a 7-6 6-7 7-6. In the semis, Ram and Salisbury defeated the All American, unseeded, wild card pairing of Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey.
Murray and Soares arrived in New York as two-time Grand Slam doubles champions, having won the Australian and US Open titles together in 2016. Soares came into the event having had his appendix removed in August, an operation which forced him to miss representing his country in the Olympic tennis event in Japan. Nevertheless, there were no regrets.
“We are really proud of the way we competed and fought our way to the final,” said Murray.
In a nice touch, in front of crowds once again, the ceremony was attended over by 18 times Grand Slam winners Bob and Mike Bryan, who presented the players with their trophies.
Winning the men’s doubles wasn’t enough for a hungry Salisbury, however, the 29-year-old cementing his best Grand Slam performance of his career by adding the mixed doubles title to his collection, partnering American Desirae Krawczyk to victory over Mexican Giuliana Olmos and El Salvador’s Marcelo Arevalo.
In the women’s doubles event, the vastly experienced Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai won their 11th consecutive doubles match to win the US Open women’s doubles title, their tight victory coming over American teenagers Coco Gauff, 17 and 19-year-old Caty McNally.
It was their second Grand Slam title as a team, having won the Australian Open together in 2019. 37-year old Stosur and her 32-year old Chinese partner were seeded 14 in New York, despite having won the Cincinatti doubles title coming into the Open, on that occasion downing Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani in the final, 7-5 6-3.
That same pairing, sadly, had to withdraw in their US Open semi-final against Gauff and McNally, after the Brazilian, Luisa Stefani, went down in a heap, sustaining a nasty lower back injury in the first set tie break.
“I definitely don’t want to win a match like this,” Gauff said, choking back emotions. “Luisa is so nice, and it’s hard to see another opponent finish the match like that. I know if it was Cathy or if it was me, I don’t know what I would have done. I just wish her the best. As an athlete, we know how an injury like that is just heart-breaking. We should all just come together to support her through this.”
Stefani’s injury meant that Gauff and McNally made it to their first Grand Slam final together, and even thought they lost a tight encounter, 6-3 3-6 6-3, they were not disheartened.
“Obviously not the result that we wanted, but we were there,” Gauff said, after the match. “I think the match was decided within, like, three or four points. I think for next time we know how to do better on those points. Our opponents, Shuai and Sam, played a great match. There’s a reason why they’ve both had a couple Grand Slams.”
After the match, Gauff admitted that Samantha Stosur was the first player to give her an autograph, a fact which the veteran Australian said was ‘a scary thought’.
For Stosur, it was her fourth Grand Slam women’s doubles title, and her second in New York, having teamed up with Lisa Raymond in 2005. A year later, the pair won at Roland Garros. She also, let us not forget, won the US Open singles title back in 2011, defeating Serena Williams in the final.
“It’s just a phenomenal feeling to have this trophy again 16 years later. Winning the singles here, I’ve got so many amazing memories here playing in New York. I love coming back here, I love the courts, I love the atmosphere. Obviously a very special place for me. It’s brought out some of my best tennis in my career over obviously many, many years.”
“We are so good friends, forever,” Zhang added. “When we’re on court, no matter [if] we win or lose – yes, today we won – but some days we lost, it’s okay. We’re still happy on court. Now nothing can break us I think. We will for sure play together more.”