By Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – American Rajeev Ram picked up his first tennis men’s doubles title at a Grand Slam on Sunday with partner Joe Salisbury of Britain, taming the local wild card pairing of Max Purcell and Luke Saville in straight sets at the Australian Open.
The hometown pair’s surprise run at Melbourne Park came to a screeching halt against the 11th seeds, who strolled to a 6-4 6-2 victory in 70 minutes on a balmy afternoon at the Rod Laver Arena.
Such was the domination of Salisbury and Ram, who won the Australian Open mixed doubles title with Czech Barbora Krejcikova last year, that they did not face a single break point in the match.
The duo converted one of their 10 break point chances in the opening set and marched to a one-sided victory with two more breaks in the second.
The 35-year-old Ram, who turned professional in 2004, switched to playing doubles full-time three years back and was making his 58th Grand Slam doubles appearance.
“I spent probably until 2016 playing prioritizing singles. I happened to be ranked high enough to get into these slams, but it (doubles) wasn’t really something I worked at, so to speak,” Ram said.
“It feels more like I started my doubles career in 2017 and onward … I’ve been at it a while for sure. To actually finally get one is great.”
Ram said he was sick during the off-season and took a call to not defend his mixed doubles title at Melbourne Park.
Sunday’s win was also emotional for the American due to the personal loss he suffered last year.
“My father passed away in April of last year with pancreatic cancer,” he said. “He was the one that started me in tennis.
“When something like that happens, it shakes you pretty good. Yes, it’s been challenging, but sometimes that stuff, when it happens, makes these moments a little bit more sweet.
“Obviously I wish all the world that my dad could have seen this. I think I’ve done well to make him proud hopefully.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Christopher Cushing)