Team-focused Rajeev Ram climbs to No. 1 in doubles World Championship: ‘It’s pretty amazing’ | ATP Tour

Rajeev Ram made history on Monday when he became the oldest first-time world No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings history. The American rose from world No. 2 and swapped places with his partner Joe Salisbury from Great Britain.

“It’s pretty amazing. I’ve obviously had quite a long career, for which I’m grateful. But in the last three or four years with Joe, it really felt like we were at the top of the game and fighting for all the big titles,” Ram told “It’s a lot of hard work that a lot of people have put in, not just me, to get me to this point.”

The 38-year-old has been world No. 2 since April 4 and rose to world No. 1 when Salisbury lost 250 points he had gained by capturing the San Diego open title last season Neal Skupsky. Ram positioned himself to deserve success as he teamed with Salisbury for a second straight season US Open title last month.

Though Ram “used to shy away from” talking about records, he does cherish reaching the top of the men’s doubles mountain at the age of 38. Bob Hewittwho was 36 years old in 1976.

“I definitely appreciate that now because I feel like it shows that you can wait a long time. As long as you are resilient [and] stubbornly, things can happen even much later,” Ram said. “Everyone is on their own path and maybe it’s even a little bit sweeter if it takes a little longer.”

<a href=Joe Salisbury/Rajeev Ram” />
Ram and Salisbury at this year’s US Open. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images.
The American played collegiate tennis at the University of Illinois, where the team won the national title in 2003, giving Ram the doubles victory Brian Wilson. He then enjoyed a successful singles career that saw him rise to a career-high 56th in the world in 2016 and win two ATP Tour trophies (both in Newport).

But in 2017, Ram shifted his focus to doubles and hasn’t looked back since.

“I felt like I restarted my career in 2017 when I started playing doubles. I don’t feel like it’s been that long, in a sense that it feels like I’ve only really played doubles for about five years,” Ram said. “It feels a little different than it would have been [if] I’ve played doubles my whole career and suddenly I was at this point at 38.

“I needed to get every little bit of attention to maximize my doubles skills, I felt. That’s how I did it. Having a steady partner, having a group around us that we all believe in and trust, I think those results are a [result] from that.”

Both Ram and Salisbury were aware that in their partnership they have always put the team above the individual. They’ve won eight Tour-level titles combined – including three Grand Slam crowns – and qualified for those Nitto ATP Finals in four consecutive seasons.

“These awards are great, but I think our focus was on being the No. 1 team,” Ram said. “Now the fact that we both will [have been] The #1 player is just a testament to the team effort we put in.”

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Ram had a hunch things were going to go well with Salisbury after their first training block together in Florida in late 2018, and it has proven prophetic. Salisbury had plenty of praise for his partner.

“Congratulations to Rajeev on becoming world No. 1. I’m really happy for him and it’s definitely deserved. It definitely feels right that he’s number 1 now. I’m very happy to be number 2 again,” said Salisbury. “Obviously it’s a tremendous team effort, we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved. For being the No. 1 team at the moment, I think it’s definitely right that we share No. 1. I’ve enjoyed having it for as long as I’ve had it, but I’m really happy for him. He’s been an incredible partner the entire time we’ve played together.

“[Even though] We think more about the team than the individual awards, it’s definitely nice that he’s No. 1 in the rankings now.”

Mike Bryanwho was number 1 in the doubles world championship for 506 weeks, congratulated his compatriot on his rise to the top.

“Rajeev really deserves this honor and it’s great to see that he’s had so much success in his late 30s,” Bryan told “He has always been one of the most talented and dangerous doubles players on the tour but to reach the top of the mountain so late in his career is incredible. It’s a great testament to his dedication and hard work. Congratulations RR!”

While he’s excited to become world No. 1, Ram is hungry to continue to hone his craft and work with Salisbury to remain the sport’s top team.

“It’s just the idea of ​​trying to keep my own game and keep improving because everyone else will improve too. Nobody’s going to just sit there, so obviously we’re going to fall behind if we don’t get better,” Ram said. “It’s just a constant motivation to push as hard as you can to get as far as you can.”

Did you know?
Ram is the 57th player and 18th American to rise to #1 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings.

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