British hopes at next week’s ATP Finals in London are likely to fall firmly on Putney’s Joe Salisbury, with the Brit tipped for success at the event.
With no Brits in the singles draw and the LTA-based pair of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski facing an uphill task at the Sofia Open to seal the final doubles spot at the O2 Arena, 28-year-old Salisbury could well be the only home player at the event.
Salisbury was the only Brit in action when he made his tournament debut in 2019, though he and doubles partner Rajeev Ram this year head into the round robin event of one of the favourites for the title.
The season could not have started any better with a maiden Grand Slam men’s doubles title coming at the Australian Open for both Salisbury and his American partner, a result that helped push the Brit up to a career-high of third in the rankings.
Salisbury now sits at tenth in the rankings and was consistent following the resumption of the tour in August, reaching the semi-finals of the US Open and the quarter-final at the French Open.
Other highlights include a run to the semi-finals in the first event back post-suspension at the Western and Southern Open.
A slight setback last week saw the pair withdrawn from the Paris Masters after Salisbury was in close contact with a positive Covid-19 case, though they still head into the ATP Finals as the second-ranked pair in the world and one of the favourites to win the title, much to the delight of Ben Roberts-Law, who previously worked with him.
Roberts-Law said: “They are two great guys, who obviously support each other really well.
“They make a really well balanced pair. Rajeev has a huge amount of experience and Joe is one of the best athletes on tour so they compliment each other really well.
“They had to spend long periods apart after starting the year so well in Australia. Despite that they have shown what a top level consistent pair they are.”
Roberts-Law worked with Salisbury at the Gosling Tennis Centre in Hertfordshire when the 28-year-old was transitioning to the ATP Tour through less prestigious ITF events, after finishing college tennis at the University of Memphis.
Roberts-Law said: “We all knew that Joe had huge potential and believed he could be a top player.
“As he has risen up the rankings he has shown the level to be one of the best players in the world, showing this consistency comes down to his determination as a person and the great work his coaches have done with him.”
Salisbury’s rise has been fast, needing a wildcard to get into the main draw at Wimbledon in 2018 before reaching the semi-final alongside former champion Frederik Nielsen.
Salisbury’s partnership with Ram began in 2019 and the two reached the ATP Finals last year, though will be aiming to at least the semi-finals after only finishing third in their group 12 months ago.
Roberts-Law said: “I think they have a good chance to win it. Every pair you play has earned the right to be there so it will be tough, but I think the experience of last year will help and there is no pair in the draw they can’t beat.
“Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares are the number one pair at the moment and I think they will be a tough pair to beat, but they are all really good teams.”
Pavic and Soares, two experienced players who won the US Open title and beat Salisbury and Ram at the French Open, are just one pair who will be in contention.
French Open champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, and Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic, who beat the British-American duo at the US Open, are amongst the other pairs in the field.
It will be a hotly-contested draw though Salisbury and Ram, seeded second, are guaranteed to be the highest ranked pair in their group.
The ATP Finals are the final event of 2020 with no action until the Australian swing in January, assuming that goes ahead of planned.
Roberts-Law backs Salisbury for further success in 2021.
He said: “I suspect Joe will be looking to build on this year and have another great year in the Grand Slams, hopefully with a few more titles and becoming the number one pair in the world.”
Action at the ATP Finals begins on Sunday.
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