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February 21, 2021

Rajeev Ram

Joe Salisbury

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Rajeev, you sometimes partnered with Ivan Dodig in some tournaments. Did you know before the final about Filip's baby, the second girl? Did you ever see Filip playing so well in a match?

RAJEEV RAM: No and no. No, I didn't know. He's a great guy. Both are great guys. Lovely family. I didn't know that he was expecting another baby. Obviously big congratulations for a couple reasons for him.

Yeah, start to finish I thought he played really well. We tried different things. I'm proud of the way we competed. Felt like maybe we had half a look in the second set. Yeah, just a bit too good for us today.

Q. You both had good success in the doubles. What did you learn from the quarantine experience? What does it make you think of going forward?

JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, I mean, I guess learnt that Rajeev doesn't need to practice too much to play pretty well. I mean, yeah, it was a lot easier for me. I was practicing with my coach during that quarantine time. So, yeah, I was feeling fine coming out of that. Obviously it was tougher for Rajeev.

Yeah, he hits the ball pretty well, so it didn't take too long to get his eye in again. Physically after a week or so he was feeling pretty good. We were fine. It wasn't really an issue once we got into the tournament.

Obviously, yeah, going forward, we're not sure what's going to happen, whether we're going to have to do any more quarantines. Just got to see what happens. Obviously it's not ideal, but we're lucky to be out here playing.

I think obviously to be playing at a Grand Slam, it was fine to do that. I think everybody was happy. I wouldn't say everybody was happy, but everyone was willing to do the quarantine to be playing a Grand Slam. I'm not sure maybe about some of the smaller events.

Yeah, obviously it's tough at the moment. It's a lot tougher for most people than it is for us. We're lucky to be playing. Yeah, we'll just see what happens.

Q. What was the hardest thing coming back? Getting your timing down because all of a sudden you had to start competing or...

RAJEEV RAM: Yeah, no, I'll answer the second one first.

The easiest thing was getting my timing down with my partner I think. We're going on our third year together. I think we have a great understanding of each other's games. We get along really well on and off the court. I think that's one of the things that makes us a difficult team to play against, and one of the better teams out here.

For me, physically was the toughest part. Not sure how much to do. Trying to err on the side of easing into it, but you're still here preparing for a Grand Slam. I kind of went through a little up and down where I felt pretty good, then kind of hit me that I had to back off a little bit.

The first week kind of showed that. We weren't great, didn't really expect to be. Rounded into form nicely when this tournament started. I think in the end it didn't really affect our performance or my performance in the Grand Slam.

But a tough situation, like Joe said. We have it better than most. Him and I, we're happy to do whatever it took to come down here and play. We certainly appreciate the efforts of the whole organization here as well as the country of inviting us here. It wasn't an ideal situation, but we kind of knew that was a possibility to a certain extent.

Q. You have a little bit similarity with Filip. He had to sacrifice his singles. Five years didn't pick up a racquet. How is the feeling that you can still be successful, good tennis player in doubles and achieve all this, see the best tournaments?

JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, I mean, obviously that's possible. I think what he's done is incredible, having so much -- I didn't know him at all when he was playing before, so he's kind of just a new guy on the tour to me.

RAJEEV RAM: I think I played him here in 2009 if I'm not mistaken.

JOE SALISBURY: After that amount of time, being successful now, it's incredible. 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. Yeah, that was too good.

Q. You're a member of the Roddick, Blake, Fish, Ginepri generation.

RAJEEV RAM: I'm a little younger.

Q. Does it surprise you or amuse you, what is the emotion that you're still around long after they retired, albeit in doubles, but winning Grand Slam titles?

RAJEEV RAM: Yes and no. I mean, any of those guys you mentioned, if they were interested in a career in doubles probably could have still been out here. Like I said, they are a couple years older, but round about. They all had great careers in singles. That's where they decided to kind of leave it.

But maybe, yeah, I don't know, as far as doubles players in America, I really hope I'm not leaving anyone out, Nick Monroe is another one that comes to mind that is kind of a similar age that's still playing. Not many, yeah, I guess from the generation.

I'm not sure why. I think I've sort of always had the attitude of trying to continuously get better and treat it with more importance on that part of the game. It's kept me motivated, kept me interested, physically fit luckily enough to keep playing.

I have no plans on doing anything else at this point.

Q. (Question about competing against each other.)

RAJEEV RAM: We haven't yet, but that would be strange.

JOE SALISBURY: If we won our mixed doubles the other day, then he would have played in the final. We've never played.

RAJEEV RAM: Before we started playing together.

JOE SALISBURY: Not during, yeah.

Q. Do any of those matches that you played against each other have any effect on you coming together?

RAJEEV RAM: I mean, to be honest, Joe is a lot younger than I am. I didn't really know who he was until playing him. I knew he had a good result at Wimbledon that year. But, yeah, I mean, obviously I lost both times. Pretty sure he could play pretty well.

Q. Joe, with Polasek returning so well in the match, what could you have done to turn it around?

JOE SALISBURY: I mean, the way he was playing, not too much. I mean, we tried to change things up. We started serving, yeah, a bit more into his body, trying to change up the pace a bit, changing up where we were moving at the net.

But, yeah, I mean, at the end of the day we just needed to serve better. I don't think either of us were serving our best. Yeah, we just needed to serve better, hit our spots better, maybe a little more pace. Yeah, that was too good for what we had today. That was too good from him.

Q. Joe, I think it was Cam Norrie was saying he probably wouldn't be going home till April, various scheduling reasons. Were you in a similar situation? What is your next tournament you're down for?

JOE SALISBURY: No, I don't think I'm in a similar situation. I'm going to be going home. I think we still get kind of an athletes' exemption from the quarantine, so we go home, take a test, wait for the result. If that's negative, we're kind of exempt from the quarantine in terms of training purposes, apart from those countries that are on the red list. I'll be going home.

Yeah, we were entered into Rotterdam. Not quite sure if we'll play that. Probably leaning towards not playing that. Rajeev going back home. Probably play Acapulco next, maybe Dubai. Not until that week.

Q. Joe, we spoke to Jo Konta before Christmas. She said she was sending you mixed doubles audition tapes. What was your reaction to those? What are your general thoughts about the Olympics because you are the man in pole position for the doubles?

JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, I mean, obviously I'd love to play, whoever that's with. Yeah, I mean, if I was to play in the mixed, that would probably be with her as she's the highest ranked. That would be fun. I think that was, yeah, a bit of a joke the video sent.

RAJEEV RAM: She sent you something?

JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, sent me a video of hitting volleys.

Yeah, that would be fun. Obviously the men's, I would love to play as well. Not sure, again, who that would be with yet. I think it's still up in the air whether the Olympics is actually going to happen or not. Yeah, hopefully it does. That would be great to be able to play.

Yeah, again, I'm not really sure exactly what the criteria is for the entry for the mixed and men's. I think it depends on quite a lot of different things. Yeah, just have to wait and see.

Q. Joe, regarding Davis Cup, is it strange you haven't played Davis Cup yet? Given that Jamie and Neal aren't playing together any more, how much is that on your radar? Do you think you and Jamie could make a good pair for Davis Cup?

JOE SALISBURY: Yeah, I mean, I haven't thought about that too much. Obviously it's something that I would love to do. I think obviously last year it didn't happen, then the year before was when Jamie and Neal were playing together, kind of around similar rankings. That was understandable that they played in that.

But, yeah, this year I would love to play it. Hopefully it goes ahead as normal. Yeah, 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, yeah, I'd be happy to play with either of them and love to be part of the team.

Q. Rajeev, I saw out of the top 40 guys in doubles, there are two in the top hundred in singles right now. How do you think that changes the makeup of the men's doubles tour, having it be so heavily right now guys who are really focused purely on doubles?

RAJEEV RAM: Well, I think actually it shows you just kind of how much the games are different. The players that specialize and really focus on doubles and form partnerships with other players can really be successful.

I think even when I first started playing, a lot of the singles guys, if they were playing, they would be very difficult to beat. I think the doubles-only players have really taken it upon themselves to sort of master the skill of doubles, not only with the technical aspects but I think with the team aspects. I think you're seeing they're winning a lot.

It's tough. Singles is no question physical and all that. Maybe the singles guys are I'm not going to say not into it as much, but maybe don't have as much in the tank. No question about that.

I think there's a lot of credit and effort put forth by the doubles players to raise the bar. In these big tournaments you're kind of seeing that at the end of them, most of the times it's the doubles guys that are playing.

Q. Rajeev, looking ahead a little bit from April to July when the tour is Europe-based, are you the sort of person that thinks you can deal with living three or four months out of a suitcase and being able to commit to spending all that time in Europe given the quarantine or bubble rules?

RAJEEV RAM: It's a really good question. Nothing we've had to deal with before. We've always had the option to go home. I'm not sure what I would do.

I will say that I love to play and I love what I do. I love to play with Joe. I'm very happy to entertain just about anything in order to keep it going. I think it's a much easier situation, to be honest, to say we have to be in Europe, be there, maybe have restrictions, as opposed to one week in Europe, then you go somewhere else, there's different rules, you got to deal with different quarantine situations. If we can make it to where it's maybe one region of similar rules for a longer period of time, I think that would be an ideal situation.

Q. Joe, on the mixed doubles, have you actually spoken to Jo? Do you think you'd make a good team?

JOE SALISBURY: I've spoken to her sort of casually about it. Yeah, I mean, I think it would make sense that we were to play together because I think it's very tough to get into the mixed. I think it's only 16 teams. The entry cut is very high. I'm not sure that we'd even get in together.

Yeah, we mentioned it between each other. I think we're both up for doing that if we can get in. As for making a good team, to be honest, I don't know. I don't see why not. I don't think Jo plays a lot of doubles, but obviously she's a great player. She's got a very good serve I think and hits the ball great. I think we could definitely make it work to give it a good shot.

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