It was a very happy birthday for Rajeev Ram on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open as he and Raven Klaasen captured the doubles title with a 6-7(1), 6-4, 10-8 victory over Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.
"It's definitely a birthday I'm going to remember," Ram declared on court after the American/South African duo won a close contest in one hour and 47 minutes, rallying from a 2-4 deficit in the second set before edging the Match Tie-break, having twice been a mini break down.
Klaasen and Ram were responsible for taking down the big singles names in the draw, ousting Rafael Nadal and Bernard Tomic in the second round before beating Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki in the quarterfinals.
"When you think of one to win and how to win it, this is about as good as it gets," said Klaasen. "To play two legends of the game that are still playing, Nadal and Djokovic, and then to go all the way to finish the trophy out is something that I will cherish for a long time.
"At the start of week, we had ambitions of playing well. But as the week grew, we got a little bit more confident. We thought that we were playing well enough to win it, but it's still very difficult, specifically this tournament, to go all the way given the amount of good players in the draw."
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The sixth seeds, who finished runners-up at the ATP Finals in London last year, captured their fifth ATP World Tour title as a team, adding to their triumphs in 2015-16 Halle, 2016 Chengdu and last month in Delray Beach (d. Huey/Mirnyi).
"I think obviously everybody's goal at the beginning of the year is to make it to the ATP Finals at the end of the year," said Ram. "A title like this definitely puts us in good position to at least try to do that.
"I think for the long term, I think it's good validation for what we're doing. We are trying to improve all the time. And when you see results actually that back up the work you have done, it really makes it motivating to keep going and keep trying to continue to get better."
This is the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title for the 33-year-old Ram and the second Masters 1000 crown for Klaasen, who previously lifted the trophy in Shanghai in 2015 with Melo.
Kubot and Melo, who joined forces full-time in 2017, were bidding to win their third team title, to add to their back-to-back Vienna titles in 2015 and 2016.