Joe Salisbury and America’s Rajeev Ram fall short in their Australian Open men’s doubles title defence, losing to Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Slovakia’s Filip Polasek in the final at Melbourne Park; Salisbury says he has ambitions of playing Davis Cup tennis for Great Britain in November
Last Updated: 21/02/21 9:02am
Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram fell short in their Australian Open men’s doubles title defence, losing 6-3 6-4 to Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Slovakia’s Filip Polasek in the final at Melbourne Park.
It was the first Grand Slam triumph for Polasek, 35, who came out of retirement in 2018, while Croatia’s Dodig won his second men’s doubles title after winning the 2015 French Open with Marcelo Melo.
Polasek in particular was outstanding, especially on the return, and it was a landmark moment for the Slovakian, who returned to the sport in 2018 after five years in retirement because of back problems.
He became only the second Slovakian player to win a Grand Slam after Daniela Hantuchova and dedicated the title to his newborn daughter.
“We had some discussions. I am happy that she (his fiancee) said, OK, I can go. We make the deal. She said, ‘I will hold it up, and if you make final, then you can miss it’.
“Actually she holds it together, I have to say, absolutely. Because on Thursday we made it through to the final, on Friday (the baby) came. It’s a second daughter.
“It’s nice. I’ve been with the first one, the delivery. This one, I missed it. It’s quite sad. But to end it up this way here, it’s very nice. I’m also pleased they are both healthy. I am going to see them soon.”
Salisbury said: “He played unbelievably today. We talked before the match, his first Grand Slam, he might be a bit nervous, might not be playing his best because of the occasion. But he played incredibly well.
“We just needed to serve better. I don’t think either of us were serving our best. That was too good for what we had today.”
Little separated the two pairs early, with both sides cruising through their first three service games.
But after Dodig and Polasek cruised through another service game to take a 4-3 lead, the ninth seeds finally managed to break Salisbury’s serve before running away with the final game to claim the first set.
The second set followed an identical pattern, with both teams holding serve until Salisbury was broken again to hand Dodig and Polasek a 4-3 lead.
The fifth seeds rallied to draw even at 4-4 but another service break ultimately gave Dodig and Polasek enough momentum to seal the straight-sets victory.
“Since we started to play one and a half years ago, we are really enjoying and playing good tennis,” Dodig said during the trophy ceremony. “We are having a lot of fun and hopefully it is going to continue.”
The defeat denied Ram, 36, a double at Melbourne Park this year after he paired with Barbora Krejcikova to win the mixed doubles title on Saturday.
“Filip, I know it’s your first Grand Slam,” Ram said. “That was way too good. Not sure what we could have done any different, so you guys played awesome.”
Despite being a grand slam champion, Salisbury has yet to make his Davis Cup debut, but, with Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski no longer playing together, the door is open for Salisbury and Murray potentially to form a partnership.
Salisbury said: “I would love to play it. Hopefully it goes ahead as normal. I don’t know what would happen with the partnerships.
“I played with Jamie before, I played with Neal before. We’ll see what happens. But I’d be happy to play with either of them and love to be part of the team.”