Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Joe Salisbury (GBR) and Rajeev Ram (USA) celebrate after winning their first title as a team at the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
THE MODERATOR: First question for your doubles winner, please.
Q. The first one is always the sweetest. What are your thoughts?
JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, really, really happy. We’ve had a great week. Felt like we were playing well. We had our first final together in Brisbane, felt like we didn’t quite perform as well as we could. I think today, even if we lost that match, we don’t think we could have done any more. We played really well. Absolutely delighted with it.
Q. The key of the partnership, what do you think it is between the two of you?
RAJEEV RAM: I think we complement each other really well. He’s just a super athlete on the court, covers a lot of space. I think we both served quite well. I don’t think we actually faced a breakpoint all week, which is pretty good. I think that was the key to us winning here, really is we played some big-serving teams, especially the last two rounds. We were able to hold our own, manufacture some breaks, win a couple tiebreakers. Holding serve is a big part of our identity, if you will.
Q. You’ve only paired up this year. Is it a partnership that you can see developing and going on for a bit longer?
JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we’re planning to play together at least the rest of the year. If we have a good year, hopefully carry on after that. Yes, it has been successful. Had a lot of good wins, played some good tennis. We’re looking forward to what’s to come.
Q. How did you get together?
RAJEEV RAM: I’m quite a lot older than Joe. Been around a lot longer. He had a great season, came up through the ranks. Looking at the end of last year, I was playing with all different players the back half of last year. He came with an offer to play the full season. I really liked sort of how his outlook was. As he said, even if we lost today, we were happy with how we performed. That’s the attitude I have, too. You can’t win them all. You try to do your best out there. In the long run, that’s going to be beneficial for us. It’s helpful for us already.
Q. How difficult is it to find the right partner? You’ve had different partners over the last year.
JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, it is tough. Last year I played with a lot of different players. Obviously makes it more difficult. You don’t have as much time to practice with your partner, gel, get used to playing matches with them. It obviously is a lot better playing with the same guy. Then obviously, even if you’re set to play with someone, six months, a year, whatever, it might not work out, you might not play well together. Yeah, I think you just got to pick a guy that you feel like you’re going to get on well with on and off the court and that you have a sort of similar mentality. Yeah, I think we’re fortunate that it’s worked out so well for us.
Q. You got to the semis in Wimbledon last year. Before that, challengers. What happened in the run-up to Wimbledon that you found your form?
JOE SALISBURY: I don’t think there was any massive thing why I did well at Wimbledon. I felt like I’d been playing well the rest of the year. Obviously I hadn’t had the opportunity to be playing the bigger tournaments because I was playing the challengers. It’s tough. You’re still playing good players. It’s tough to work your way up through that. I won a couple of the challengers leading into Wimbledon with Freddy. Then obviously, yeah, had the great run there, which sort of boosted my ranking a lot. I think it went from about 80 to 40. Obviously had the chance to play the tour events and work my way up from there.
Q. You’ve actually broken No. 20 with this win.
JOE SALISBURY: Really?
Q. Have you set yourself targets like that where you’re aiming to be top 10 doubles?
JOE SALISBURY: Haven’t really set any ranking goals. I mean, I think probably something which I haven’t spoken about with Raj. For me, as a team, I think the goal is to make the World Tour Finals. Obviously that’s sort of the pinnacle of the sport, to play in those Tour Finals. I think if we keep going, having a good year, it’s definitely a possibility for us.
Q. The Davis Cup structure changes this year. Do you have any hopes or ambitions in that direction?
JOE SALISBURY: Definitely, yeah. I’d love to play Davis Cup. If I get the opportunity, then I’d absolutely, yeah, jump at it. I’d love to play. Obviously it’s not till I guess in November, the next match. If I was to be selected, then I would definitely like to play.