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Doubles Take: Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury capture first Masters 1000 event as a team
The summer swing heats up for both tours. Doubles Take is here with a look at the latest results.
Published Aug 16, 2021
A MASTERFUL PERFORMANCE
It’s been a fairly short time since Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury have been playing together. They’ve accomplished a lot, though, such as winning a Grand Slam title and making the ATP Finals field.
Now, after last week’s run in Canada, the American-English duo can add another accomplishment to their list: capturing their first Masters 1000 title as a team. And in doing so, they also stopped the hottest team on the men’s tour from winning a fourth tournament in a row—and 10th overall for 2021.
Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic have been near unbeatable this year, but were tested often in Toronto. Ram and Salisbury, however, only dropped one set on their way to the final and were able to turn the tables on the top seeds in the championship match after losing to them on multiple occasions in ‘21, including most recently in the Wimbledon semifinals. It’s the first title of the year for the pair, and also marks Salisbury’s first 1000-level victory.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
At the 500-level WTA event in San Jose, Calif., week before last, Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac defeated Luisa Stefani and Gabriela Dabrowski in straight sets in the final.
The way tennis works, there’s always going to be an opportunity to exact a measure of revenge at some point for a tough loss. For Dabrowski and Stefani, that chance came right away at the Canadian Open.
In a battle between the fifth and sixth seeds, it was the higher-ranked team of Dabrowski and Stefani that came away with the title. After escaping the first round in a match tiebreak, the Canadian-Brazilian duo didn’t drop another set all week, which included a win over the top seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Elise Mertens. It’s the first title of the year for Dabrowski—and first on home soil—while Stefani’s strong summer continues after her Bronze Medal at the Olympics and runner-up finish in San Jose.
What a difference a year makes. In 2020, the Western & Southern Open was held in New York City as part of the “bubble” experience leading up to the US Open, the first major after the pandemic-forced stop. Now, the tournament is back home in Cincinnati, with many of the top teams on both tours in action.
On the men’s side, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic headline the draw as they try to clinch a 10th title of 2021. The last time a men’s team won that many tournaments in a single season was in 2014, when the legendary Bryan brothers pulled it off. The second seeds are two-time major finalists Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers, who face a dangerous pairing in Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov first up after the Russians stopped Simone Bolelli and Maximo Gonzalez, one of the year’s more consistent teams, in the opening round. Singles standouts Alex de Minaur and Pablo Carreno Busta are the defending champs, but aren’t playing together this year. Instead, de Minaur is teaming up with another player best known for his singles results, Cameron Norrie, and that pair is already through to the second round.
Elise Mertens and Su-Wei Hsieh, this year’s Wimbledon champions, are the top seeds in the women’s draw, followed by the French Open winners, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova. Demi Schuurs won the title last year with Kveta Peschke, but this time, the Dutchwoman is taking the court with her regular teammate for ’21, Nicole Melichar (Peschke’s former partner). Schuurs and Melichar are seeded fourth, behind Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara. Dabrowski/Stefani and Jurak/Klepac—the two teams with the most momentum so far during the summer stretch—are seeded sixth and eighth, respectively.