12:43 PM GMT November 06, 2019
Some years there has been one Murray brother, other years there have been a couple. This season, for the first time since 2013, there are none. But the absence of Andy and Jamie Murray doesn’t mean there won’t be any British involvement on court at the Nitto ATP Finals this week.
In fact, with Joe Salisbury a debutant at The O2, this is the first time since this tournament moved to London in 2009 that it will feature a singles or doubles player who was born and raised in the city. Salisbury, who grew up in Putney, from where he recently moved to Peckham, is just the second British player whose surname isn’t Murray to play at this event in London, with the other being Yorkshireman Jonathan Marray in 2012 (he and Denmark’s Frederik Nielsen, who won that year’s Wimbledon title, reached the semi-finals at this showpiece on the Greenwich Peninsula).
Such has been the sustained success of Salisbury’s partnership with American Rajeev Ram – who was born in Denver, Colorado – that they have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in their first year together. Wherever they were on the tennis map, the aim was always to gather the ATP Doubles Ranking points that would bring them back to Salisbury’s home city in November, to compete in what he calls “the pinnacle of the sport”, where they will be seeking their biggest title yet. Will Salisbury accomplish what Jamie Murray couldn’t over the past few years, and become the first British man to win the doubles title at the season finale? Given this tournament was first played in 1970, that would be quite the first appearance from the Londoner.
In addition to winning titles in Dubai and Vienna, Ram and Salisbury also reached the Brisbane final, while they were the runners-up to Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez at The Queen’s Club in west London, the closest ATP Tour event to where Salisbury grew up. They were also finalists in Antwerp. “We complement each other really well,” said Ram. “He’s just a super athlete on the court, covering a lot of space.”
Away from the court, however, Salisbury has been giving Ram some space. “We get on really well on and off the court. We haven’t spent loads of time together off the court, which I think in some ways is quite healthy,” Salisbury has said. “Even though we get on quite well, you don’t want to be with each other 24/7, because you can spend too much time together, and then you can feel like you need a bit of space.”
This is the second of Ram’s partnerships that have been strong enough to make it to The O2, as in 2016 he and South African Raven Klaasen were the runners-up. Ram and Klaasen also played one match in 2017, but only as alternates.
The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals will be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. Buy Your Tickets