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Wimbledon 2021: Salisbury and Ram bow out in epic semi-final

  • 08/07/2021

  • Wimbledon

Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram were on the losing side of one of the matches of the tournament as they bowed out 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(5) against top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

Both teams showcased their full arsenal of weapons right from the off, with wicked winners flying from the baseline and rapid reflexes at the net. In a match so evenly poised, opportunities to get ahead were few and far between.

In the seventh game, the British, American thought they had a breakthrough – three break points off the back of some poor serving from Mektic looked to give them the advantage. But they couldn’t put the Croatians to bed – a slightly miss-timed lob from Salisbury and some tidy hands around the net gave Mektic and Pavic a much needed hold.

A tense battle between the sides eventually led to a first set tie-break. With the teams neck and neck, it was the Croatians who edged the mini break, but serving for the set, gifted Salisbury and Ram a way back in with a double fault.

At 6-6 Salisbury’s defence at the net was broken down for one of the first times in the match and Mektic sealed the set with a sliding second serve ace down the tee.

In the second set Salisbury and Ram once again had early break point chances but pushed a reaching backhand volley wide. After holding for 2-2 the top seeds marched on to get the first break of the match and close out a two set lead.

With everything to do, Salisbury and Ram showed the spirit that took them to the Australian Open title back in 2019. They put on a stunning display in the third set, winning 91% of points on first serve and began to take charge.

A running theme throughout the match, they yet again missed the chance to capitalise on more break points and 0-30 opportunities, but in the tie-break they hit a new gear. They seemed almost untouchable as Ram batted away anything that came near him at the net and Salisbury charging in to dispatch clinical winners of his own making. The American served out the set and they were back in the match.

Things went from strength to strength it seemed for the sixth seeds as they finally got their first break of the match early in the fourth set. But Mektic and Pavic have made a habit of winning this season – picking up seven titles already – and weren’t about to let this one slip away. They responded instantly and before they knew it, were back on level terms.

Another tie-break then ensued with the match hanging in the balance. The decisive moment would come on a Salisbury serve out wide, which was met by a phenomenal backhand on the acute angle to give them the mini-break which proved enough to win the match.

In the mixed doubles, Neal Skupski and his American partner Desirae Krawczyk advanced to the semi-finals after defeating Jean-Julien Roger and Andreja Klepac 7-6(6), 6-2.

After losing a break advantage in the opening set, Skupski and Krawczyk found themselves facing five set points at 6-1 in the tie-break. The seventh seeds showed unbelievable mental strength to battle back and win seven consecutive points in a row.

With the first set wrapped up momentum completely shifted and they tied up a commanding victory in an hour and 24 minutes. Next they will play John Peers and Zhang Shuai.

Joining them in the semi-finals will be Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart who edged a close 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over fellow Brit Naomi Broady and Jeremy Chardy.

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Just a matter of hours after coming off court in the men's doubles semi-finals and Salisbury was locked in another battle on Court No.1. It seemed to show with Broady and Chardy starting the stronger of the teams, picking up an early break and taking a one set lead.

But Salisbury and Dart dug deep and after saving break point opportunities in the second set, they got the break on set point to level the match.

In the end, the Brits performance on the biggest points would prove the pivotal factor in deciding the match. With Broady and Chardy serving to stay in the match at 6-5, Salisbury and Dart launched their attach and at the second time of asking, completed their comeback.

In the wheelchair events, Jordanne Whiley got off to a flying start as she dropped only two games on her way to defeating Aniek Van Koot – who won both the singles and doubles events in 2019 – 6-2, 6-0.

Next she will face World No.1 Diede De Groot who came through against British wildcard Lucy Shuker 6-4, 6-1.

Gordon Reid staged an epic comeback to defeat top seed Shingo Kunieda in the quarter-finals of the men's wheelchair singles. After losing the first set, Reid took his game to another level to clich a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 win. He will now play Argentina's Gustavo Fernandez for a place in the final.

It was heartbreak for Alfie Hewett, who lost a tough quarter-final match up against Belgium’s Joachim Gerard 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, despite an inspired comeback from the British No.1.

Andy Lapthorne lost out in an epic three-set clash against 21-year-old US Open champions Sam Schroder 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3.

Wimbledon

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