Jack Draper finishes runner-up in Adelaide as Joe Salisbury & Rajeev Ram lift their 15th title
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Jack Draper’s impressive run at the Adelaide International saw him finish the week as runner-up, while Joe Salisbury won his first title of the season alongside USA’s Rajeev Ram.
In only his second ATP Tour final, Draper lost to Czech Republic’s Jiri Lehecka 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and nine minutes to give the seventh seed his first career title.
Meanwhile, four-time major champions Salisbury and Rajeev Ram kicked off their season in style with their 15th title together as a duo.
The reigning US Open and Nitto ATP Finals champions completed their Australian Open preparations by defeating second seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden 7-5, 5-7, 11-9 in Saturday’s final in Adelaide.
With a one set lead, Draper looked on his way to becoming the youngest Brit to win an ATP title since Andy Murray in 2006 (21).
The Brit was 0-30 up at 4-4 on the Czech's serve in the second, but an incredible outstretched volley from Lehecka proved a turning point. He won the last eight of nine points to close out the set and then an early break in the third proved enough to see Lehecka lift the trophy.
"You (Lehecka) played some incredible tennis today," Draper said in his post-match interview. "Your first title, I was trying to do the same, but you were the better player today so congratulations."
"I made the semi-final last year and went one further this year, so I quite like this tournament and I hope to come back next year and for many years to come."
Despite the disappointment of missing out on the title, 22-year-old Draper will leave Adelaide in a strong position for the Australian Open – having defeated three players inside the top 35 this week, including Sebastian Baez, Tommy Paul and Alexander Bublik.
Draper will open his campaign at Melbourne Park on Tuesday 16 January as he faces USA’s Marcus Giron in the opening round.
Salisbury and Ram came back from 4-0 down in the opening set before winning seven of the next eight games to clinch the set.
The British, American team saved five break points in the second, but couldn’t prevent Bopanna and Ebden levelling at one set apiece, before going on to take a 5-1 lead in the deciding match tie-break.
However, Salisbury and Ram seemed to have the psychological edge over their opponents – coming into the match with a 2-0 head-to-head with wins in the US Open final and Nitto ATP Finals last year. Despite their early lead and holding a mini-break at 7-5 as well, Salisbury and Ram kept their nerve and rounded off the win on their second match point.