Novak Djokovic might have clinched the No. 1 ranking in singles, but all eight doubles duos at the ATP Finals have a shot to finish as 2020's No. 1 team in the year-end rankings.
That adds to the competition for the players. British doubles No. 1 Joe Salisbury, who plays with Rajeev Ram, wants the title—and the top spot.
“This time we want to win. For us, it has been a big goal since we left Australia,” said Salisbury, speaking to press in London. “We were in the No. 1 spot since then and just went to second after Bruno [Soares] and Mate [Pavic] went above us in Paris [in October]. It is great that that is to play for and extra motivation.”
Currently, the ATP is using an adjusted ranking system that allows points from 2019 to count towards a player's ranking. Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal are No. 1 and No. 2 in the ATP Doubles Rankings by a long way, even though they didn't do enough this season to qualify for the season finale.
But it's quite a different story in this year's team race. The eight teams bidding to finish on top are Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares, Ram and Salisbury, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic, Lukas Kubot and Marcelo Melo, and Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Salisbury and Ram won the Australian Open, beating Max Purcell and Luke Saville, and their aims at the ATP Finals are now higher.
Said Salisbury, “Last year I think there was a little bit of pressure as the only Brit. I think this year’s different—there was a bit of a feeling that it was great to have qualified but this time we want to win.”
Spending a large amount of time restricted to his room has also affected Salisbury's game.
"I felt it a little bit and a few things I think maybe on the kind of reaction volleys, I felt like I was just a bit slow, sort of seeing the balls a bit slow," he said.
And while this event has been one of the few to have a full crowd watching the doubles, there are no fans this year—that has been another adjustment for players.
"You did practice in front of nobody obviously, but to play a match, to compare it with the other years where we played here, it's a different feeling," said Pavic.
The top two tandems in each round-robin group will reach the semifinals. This year's groups are named after Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who retired in August.