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Ram Caps Dream Week With Newport 'Double'

Newport, U.S.A.

Rajeev Ram© Mike Baz/ITHOFRam won his maiden ATP World Tour title at Newport.

ATP World Tour No. 181 Rajeev Ram became the first lucky loser this season to win an ATP World Tour title when he defeated No. 3 seed Sam Querrey 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport on Sunday. Afterwards, Ram capped his dream week as he clinched the doubles title alongside Australian Jordan Kerr.

"This is the biggest moment of my career and I will enjoy it and keep working hard," said Ram.

By becoming the first lucky loser to lift the trophy in the grass-court tournament’s history, Ram earned 250 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points and $79,000. Meanwhile, runner-up Querrey received 150 Ranking points and $41,500 in prize money.

Ram, who gained entry into the main draw when top seed Mardy Fish opted to join the United States Davis Cup team, is the first lucky loser to win an ATP World Tour title since Sergiy Stakhovsky triumphed at Zagreb in March 2008.

The 25-year-old Ram was contesting his career-first ATP World Tour final and becomes the third first-time winner this season, joining Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Kitzbuhel and Benjamin Becker in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. At No. 181 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, Ram is the lowest-ranked player to win an ATP World Tour title this season. He is projected to move from No. 181 to a career-high around No. 111.

"These days don't come around too often and when you get to this stage you hope to take advantage of the opportunity," said Ram. "Even though Sam was the favourite there's pressure on both players because it's the final."

In the first all-American final on the ATP World Tour since New Haven in August 2007 (James Blake d. Fish), 25 aces were fired and 14 break point opportunities were created. Querrey gained the first break of serve in the match to lead 6-5 in the first set, but was denied in his attempt to close out a one-set lead as Ram hit back to level at 6-6. However, Querrey quickly regrouped to take the tie-break 7-3.

Ram, who had not won a tour-level match this season prior to his arrival in Newport, held his nerve to save three break points in the second set, before taking his chance on Querrey’s serve in the 12th game to break his countryman and level the match at one-set apiece.

Ram capitalised on his momentum at the start of the third set to break Querrey’s serve and establish a 2-0 advantage, however his lead was quickly clipped as Querrey fought back to level 2-2. Ram did not let the disappointment of relinquishing his lead last long though and his resilience was rewarded in the eighth game as he broke Querrey for the fourth time in the match before serving out the championship after two hours and one minute.

"I wasn't serving as well as I did in my last four matches and he played well, credit to him," said Querrey. "I was lucky to win the first set and he played the big points well. He started putting pressure on me in the third set and he did a good job. I thought I was playing all right but he served well in the third set."

Ram said: "I relaxed and loosened up on my serve in the third set and picked up my game. I just concentrated on my game and tried to keep pressure on him. My style is to rush in with my serve and volley game."

The Carmel, Indiana resident becomes the 15th homegrown champion in Newport, and the first American to triumph since Robby Ginepri in 2003. Ram and Ginepri are also two of 15 players to have won their first ATP World Tour titles in Newport.

The 21-year-old Querrey, who ousted two-time defending champion Fabrice Santoro in the semi-finals, was looking to win his second ATP World Tour title in his third final appearance. The Californian won his maiden title at Las Vegas (d. Anderson) last year and finished runner-up to Juan Martin del Potro in Auckland at the start of the 2009 season.

The No. 39-ranked Querrey led the field with 80 aces in his five matches this week. The right-hander, who lost to Marin Cilic in five sets at Wimbledon, dropped to a 23-17 match record on the season.

Shortly after receiving his winner’s trophy, Ram teamed up with Kerr to battle past Michael Kohlmann and Rogier Wassen 6-7(6), 7-6(7), 10-6 in one hour and 49 minutes.

Kerr said: "It was really tight and at the end it was only a few points that decided the match. We went up 4-2 in the Match Tie-break and we were able to hang on from there."          

It was the fifth title in Newport for Kerr, who is 9-2 lifetime in ATP World Tour doubles finals, and the second of the season for Ram, who won in Chennai (w/Butorac) in January. Kerr owns an 18-1 career record in Newport, and also won the event title in 2003 (w/Macpherson) and 2004-05, ’07 (w/Thomas). Vijay Amritraj is the only other player in tournament history to appear in five finals, winning the singles title three times and doubles title twice.

"I am really excited to win here again and I feel so comfortable playing in Newport," said Kerr. "I didn't play here last year and it feels great to come back and win another title."

Ram became the third player to win both the singles and doubles titles at Newport in the same year, matching the accomplishment of Dan Goldie (1987) and John Fitzgerald (1983), and also the third double winner on the ATP World Tour this season, along with Tommy Robredo (Costa do Sauipe) and Radek Stepanek (San Jose). He was the sixth player to play in both singles and doubles finals in the same tournament this season.

"I can't put into words what this day has been like," said Ram. "I was satisfied to win the singles but to come back and win the doubles with Jordan made it an unbelievable day for me. I am so happy for Jordan to win here for the fifth time."

With rain curtailing play on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ram played eight matches over the last three days of the tournament. He spent a total of 13 hours and 13 minutes on the court in singles and doubles action (12:01 over the last eight matches).

Kohlmann fell to a 5-12 mark in ATP World Tour doubles finals, and Wassen to a 4-5 record. The two were playing together in their first ATP World Tour tournament.

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