A journey that began with him switching to doubles due to acute bouts of glandular fever will see Joe Salisbury become the world’s number one doubles player next week.
Exactly six years to the day that Jamie Murray did the same thing – next Monday on April 4 – the 29 year-old Londoner will top the rankings as the best player in the two-man code.
The mathematical reality of that was confirmed when he and partner Rajeev Ram reached the quarter finals of the Miami Open while Croatian rivals Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic were upset in the second round.
Joe Salisbury will become the third British world No 1 since computer tables began in 1970s
Reigning US Open champion Salisbury had a Zoom call to celebrate with family and coaches on Monday morning, but will put the champagne on ice until next week.
‚Obviously it’s not official until the rankings next Monday and we’re focused on doing well this week,‘ he said. ‚So I think next week at some point when it’s official, then we’ll have a celebration.‘
Salisbury learned his tennis at the Roehampton Club, almost next door to the Lawn Tennis Association headquarters. He was a little-known graduate of the University of Memphis before he teamed up with American Ram, and quickly scaled the doubles game after debilitating bouts of glandular fever forced him to abandon thoughts of a singles career.
‚It wasn’t the only reason but I guess it was part of why I switched to just playing doubles. I also realised that I can be a lot more successful in doubles than I would have been in singles. I guess a combination of the two men that turns out that was a good decision.
Salisbury and his partner Rajeev Ram have dominated the doubles scene in recent years
‚Even until sort of a year or so ago I probably wasn’t even thinking that this was on the radar. A few years ago when I started playing with Rajeev I remember feeling how special it was just to be playing on the main tour.
‚Doubles is a team sport and Rajeev deserves this every bit as much as me. If it wasn’t him agreeing to play with me nearly three and a half years ago then then we wouldn’t be here and I feel really grateful to be playing with him. Such a great guy and such a great player.
‚I wasn’t one of the top players with top prospects, wasn’t sure if I wanted to give it go. Sometimes when I was playing Futures level I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep going. Playing Challengers I still wasn’t earning any money. Fortunately I had really supportive parents who really believed in me and saw some of the potential.‘
While doubles is the relatively poor relation of the sport, with official prize earnings approaching £2 million he has swapped lodging with his sister in Peckham for buying his own place in Wimbleton.
Salisbury’s ascent of the doubles game comes at a time of broadly encouraging results in the men’s division of British tennis.
In 2016 Andy Murray (pictured) became only the second British tennis player to be ranked No 1
There are currently five GB men placed in the top 100 of the gold standard singles game based on results from this season alone – Cam Norrie, Dan Evans, Andy Murray, Jack Draper and Liam Broady. Draper, 20, is showing particular potential and has won three tournaments this year.
On Sunday Hull’s Paul Jubb, another who attended college in the US, won his first Challenger level title, in the backwater of Bolivia. It came on clay, which is somewhat unusual for a British player.
There are also hopes that former Australian Open semi-finalist and world number 14 Kyle Edmund may finally be able to make a comeback this summer after eighteen months out with a chronic knee injury. He has been back hitting at the National Tennis Centre.
On Tuesday Cam Norrie will face Casper Ruud in the last sixteen of the Miami Open.