NEW YORK (AP) — Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury were having a difficult year, struggling to win even a couple matches in a row.
Everything changed once they returned to the U.S. Open, where Ram and Salisbury dominate like no men's team in 110 years.
The No. 3 seeds captured their third straight title at Flushing Meadows, rallying to beat Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Friday.
“We knew we were having a tough time. But we put in the work starting kind of after Wimbledon was over, “Ram said, ”(realizing) that, this is the tournament that we know we can play well at, proven it before, and it wasn’t going to happen by accident.”
Ram and Salisbury extended their winning streak at Flushing Meadows to 18 matches. They are the first men's team to win three straight U.S. Opens since Americans Tom Bundy and Maurice McLoughlin from 1912-14.
Ram and Salisbury arrived in New York on a three-match losing streak and acknowledged losing some confidence. That's partly why Salisbury, from Britain, cried into a towel on his chair after the match ended.
“I don’t think I have ever cried after any matches, especially not ones that we have won, even at the Grand Slams,” Salisbury said. “But yeah, there is something about being here, about doing it again and I think doing it after the year we have had. We have had some struggles, had some pretty low times.”
The women's doubles final Sunday will be No. 12 Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva against No. 16 Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe. Siegemund and Zvonareva won the U.S. Open title in 2020 in their first time playing together.
That's the last time Ram, a 39-year-old American, and Salisbury lost in the tournament, falling in the semifinals. They were in early trouble Friday before recovering to prevent the 43-year-old Bopanna from becoming the oldest Grand Slam men's doubles champion.
Ram and Salisbury, who also won the 2020 Australian Open together, were just 20-16 for the season before reeling off six straight wins at the U.S. Open.
“I think it’s no secret that they’ve really struggled this year. I don’t think they’ve won more than back-to-back matches or two or three matches in a row, maybe only a few times,” Ebden said. “They have been really struggling, actually, taking a lot of losses for six, seven, eight months.”
“It’s the nature of the season,” he added. “If you stick together, you keep playing well, keep pushing, you build those partnerships, you give yourself a chance.”
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