2021 Nitto ATP Finals: Unbeaten Salisbury and Ram through to semi-finals; Norrie and Murray bow out in group stages
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- Joe Salisbury & Rajeev Ram bt. Juan Sebastian Cabal & Robert Farah - 7-5, 2-6, 11-9
- Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicholas Mahut bt. Jamie Murray & Bruno Soares - 6-3, 7-6(5)
- Novak Djokovic bt. Cam Norrie - 6-2, 6-1
Norrie beaten by World No.1
Cam Norrie was defeated 6-2, 6-1 by 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic at the Nitto ATP Tour Finals.
In the first meeting between the two it was Djokovic who got off to a flying start. The World No.1 barely missed a beat in the opening two games, outlasting Norrie in a lengthy rally to take the first break.
The British No.1 couldn’t find his usual rhythm, making several uncharacteristic errors. In the fourth game Djokovic broke him to love for a comfortable 4-1 lead.
Djokovic had served 24 aces rate in his first two matches in the finals and at 5-2 he launched another two to win the set.
Looking to bounce back Norrie pushed Djokovic hard in the first game of the second set, but again, costly misses gave the Serbian another early lead – forcing a drive volley long and a backhand into the net.
A glimmer of an opportunity came and went in the following game as Djokovic rescued a break point and from there he pushed on again – finding great success on the serve and volley.
From there the World No.1 never looked back – he held comfortably and with a punishing backhand volley, broke the Brit again to finish the match.
Norrie will next return to action representing Great Britain at the 2021 Davis Cup Finals.
Murray and Soares defeated in final match
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares lost their final match in Turin against Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicholas Mahut 6-3, 7-6(5).
The loss brings an end to Murray and Soares season together, ending the year with a pair of ATP titles and finishing runners-up at the US Open.
Herbert and Mahut looked strong from opening exchanges and didn’t drop their level as they booked a place in Saturday’s semi-finals.
At 3-3, 30-30 in the first set, the Brazilian pushed the ball long to set up the first break point of the match so far. A conservative second serve from Soares set Herbert up nicely to play a low return at the feet of Murray, clinching the break.
The French team shifted into another gear as they stretched ahead. Mahut played the shot of the set on a brilliant lob at 5-3 and the pair broke Murray to seal a well-deserved lead.
Murray and Soares struggled slightly on serve – winning only 65% of first and 33% of second serves in the opening set – but steadied the ship in the second.
They stayed on serve for the duration of the second. As in their match against Ram and Salisbury on Wednesday, the French pairing were incredibly efficient on serve, but at 5-5 the seventh seeds final chance came.
At 0-30, Murray hooked a backhand return winner off Mahut to set up their first break points of the match. No sooner where they ahead than the French Open champions had won the game, Mahut taking the big pressure moment in his stride winning four straight points to hold.
In the tie-break Murray was caught with a low return at his feet to give the Frenchmen the mini break, which was all they needed to eventually serve out the victory.
Salisbury and Ram finish top of Red Group
Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram came through a must win match against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-5, 2-6, 11-9 to qualify for the semi-finals in Turin.
The win maintains their unbeaten run at the Nitto ATP Finals this year as they go in pursuit of their first end of season title.
Both sides came out flying on serve – in the opening six games, the returners only won five points and the Colombians bombed four aces along the way.
Salisbury and Ram have been clinical in the big moments this week and at 6-5, 30-30 they stepped up to the mark once again.
With the Colombians attacking at the net, Salisbury arched a brilliant backhand passing shot clipping the outside of the tramline. The fifth seeds tried the same tactic on the following point only to achieve the same outcome as Ram slammed a forehand straight in between the pair.
A set down, the Colombians had to re-group and broke Salisbury in the third game with an inspired performance from Cabal – kick-starting the game with a clever lob and finished by setting up his partner with a killer volley to go ahead.
The former Wimbledon and US Open champions broke again on Salisbury’s next service game. This time it was the turn of Farah who came up clutch on the deuce deciding point with an angled winner across the face of the Brit.
For the second time this week, Salisbury and Ram went to the match tie-break. The British-American duo claimed two mini breaks and even had Ram serving for the match at 9-7, but the Colombians brought it back to 9 apiece.
Cabal, who had been the star of the second set, missed a simple overhead to give Salisbury the chance to serve it out and this time they didn’t miss.
After their third successive win, Salisbury said, "It's been great to have three of us Brits here playing this week - that's amazing - and I'm hoping we can go all the way."
Salisbury and Ram will play top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the semi-finals after going through as champions in the Red Group.
"They're the number one team in the world for a reason, we've played some close ones and we're going to have to be at our best" said Ram.