Thursday, February 18, 2021

Cal assistant Ram to play for AO men's doubles repeat

   Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley, and Joe Salisbury will play for their second consecutive Australian Open men's doubles title.
   The fifth-seeded Ram, 36, of Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury, 28, of Great Britain beat sixth-seeded Jamie Murray, Andy's older brother from Great Britain, and Bruno Soares of Brazil 6-4, 7-6 (2) tonight in the semifinals. 
   Murray and Soares won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016. 
   Both Ram and Murray captured a doubles title in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., Ram in 2011 with former Stanford All-American Scott Lipsky and Murray in 2007 with Eric Butorac.
   Ram and Salisbury are scheduled to face ninth-seeded Ivan Dodig, 36, of Croatia and Filip Polasek, 35, of Slovakia on Friday at 8 p.m. PST (Tennis Channel).
   Dodig, who won the 2015 French Open with Marcelo Melo of Brazil, and Polasek, who will play in his first Grand Slam final, topped second-seeded Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday.
   Men's singles semifinals — Fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia outplayed fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in a late match (replay Friday at 11 a.m. PST on ESPN2).
   Tsitsipas, 22, stunned second-seeded Rafael Nadal, the 2009 champion, on Wednesday after trailing two sets to none. Nadal now is 232-2 after winning the first two sets in Grand Slam matches. Fabio Fognini of Italy accounted for the other victory in the third round of the 2015 U.S. Open.
   Medvedev, the 2019 U.S. Open runner-up to Nadal, is slated to face top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Sunday at 12:30 a.m. on ESPN (replays at 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. on ESPN2).
   Djokovic, 33, is 4-3 against the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Medvedev, 25, but Medvedev has won three of the past four meetings (all in best-of-three-set matches). In their only previous Grand Slam encounter, Djokovic prevailed 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open.
   Djokovic seeks his ninth Australian Open singles title and 18th Grand Slam singles crown, two short of the record held by Roger Federer, 39, and Nadal, 34.
   Women's singles final — Third-seeded Naomi Osaka of Japan is scheduled to play 22nd-seeded Jennifer Brady of Boca Raton, Fla., on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. on ESPN (replay at 5 a.m. on ESPN2).
   Osaka, 23, eyes her fourth Grand Slam singles crown and second in the Australian Open. Brady, 25, will play in her first major final.
   Osaka is 2-0 against Brady at the tour level, including a 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3 victory in the U.S. Open semifinals last September en route to the title.
   Osaka made her WTA main-draw debut at 16 at Stanford in 2014. Brady starred in Northern California Challengers, sweeping the singles and doubles titles in Redding ($25,000) in 2014 at age 19 and advancing to the quarterfinals as the top seed in Sacramento ($60,000) in 2017, losing to Sofia Kenin.
   The Australian Open champion will pocket $2.13 million, down from $3.12 million last year. The runner-up will collect $1.16 million.
   Women's doubles final — Second-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus beat third-seeded Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3 for their second major title. Mertens, 25, and Sabalenka, 22, also won the 2019 U.S. Open.
   The Australian Open winners split $463,740, and the runners-up shared $262,786.
   In singles in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose. Sabalenka reached the 2019 final, and Mertens advanced to the semifinals the previous year in the inaugural tournament.

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