2020 Nitto ATP Finals: Salisbury and Ram lose tight semi-final clash
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Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram lost a nail-biting semi-final at the Nitto ATP Finals against Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jurgen Melzer 6-7(4), 6-3, 11-9.
The pair came into the match with the opportunity to finish the season as the number one doubles team in the world, but the French-Austrian team showed incredible resilience to come back and win a tight clash at The O2.
Despite winning the first set, it was a shaky start for Salisbury and Ram, who looked slightly on edge in the opening exchanges. The American kick-started the match on serve but a few unforced errors from both players led to an early break and put the number seven seeds on the front foot.
However, it didn’t take long for the Australian Open champions to bounce back. Salisbury held comfortably to put them on the board, which they then followed up by breaking Melzer’s serve to level the score at 2-2.
The number two seeds had clearly marked the Austrian’s serve from the off and were able to put their opponents under a lot of pressure, taking the ball early and returning deep.
Strong holds on both sides brought up an opening set tie-break, where yet again, small margins would prove to be the difference. A series of blistering forehand winners from Ram, two cross-court and one bisecting their opponents at the net, eventually clinched the breaker 7-4.
Everything looked to be going Salisbury and Ram’s way as they started the second set after a big break on Roger-Vasselin’s serve was backed up by a dominant display from the Brit to take a two game lead.
Out of nowhere, the match then took an unexpected turn. When all seemed lost, the French-Austrian duo managed to find another gear and won an impressive five games in a row to go 5-2 up.
At 5-3, Salisbury and Ram were gifted a couple of break point opportunities but were unable to convert either. After a framed winner from Roger-Vasselin and an uncharacteristic error from the Brit at the net, the match was tied at one set apiece.
With a spot in the final on the line, Roger-Vasselin and Melzer struggled to keep the momentum from the second set going and gave up a number of early errors, finding themselves 7-1 down.
The match looked all but won, but the number seven seeds refused to go down without a fight. Miraculously they went on to win the next seven points on the bounce to take an 8-7 lead.
Salisbury and Ram had a match point at 9-8, but it was Roger-Vasselin and Melzer who eventually took the deciding tie-break 11-9.