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Lipsky-Ram record first Slam semi after decade on tour

Americans Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram face off against No. 12 seeds Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
By McCarton Ackerman
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

After more than a decade on tour, Americans Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram have broken through and made it to their first Grand Slam semifinal.

Competing in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday against No. 12 seeds Eric Butorac of the U.S. and Raven Klaasen of South Africa, Ram and Lipsky used huge first serves and first volleys to dominate the points and pull out the upset, 6-3, 7-6.

“We’ve both made quite a few quarterfinals and been on the edge of some tight matches that haven’t gone our way, including a few that we’ve played together,” said Ram. “To get through this one, and especially in our home Grand Slam, was really nice.”

It also marked the first both time either Lipsky or Ram had the chance to play a match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, although both players weren’t entirely new to the court. Ram played against John McEnroe as 14-year-old during the 1998 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, while Lipsky warmed up former world No. 1 Jennifer Capriati in 2000 when he was still a college tennis star at Stanford University.

But growing up just a short drive from the US Open in the Long Island suburb of Merrick, Lipsky had plenty of memories as a spectator before he began competing here.

“I remember coming here in '91 and watching Jimmy Connors play in the first-round (against Patrick McEnroe) when he got to the semifinals that year,” said Lipsky. “I even snuck into the player lounge one year with a friend of mine. He literally bumped into Pete Sampras and just said, ‘Sorry.’”

Although Lipsky and Ram had paired up together in the past, they have primarily teamed up with other players in recent years. Lipsky recently ended a two-year partnership with Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico, while Ram has been focusing primarily on his singles career.

“We haven’t split really up for any reason other than scheduling conflict. It’s not as though we weren’t doing well or had a fight,” said Ram. “It’s hard to plan out the year with a full-time doubles player when you’re still playing singles, but I’m definitely getting closer to matching a schedule that works for the both of us.”

American success in men’s doubles has been at an all-time high this year between the ongoing dominance of Bob and Mike Bryan, Jack Sock winning the doubles title at Wimbledon with Canadian Vasek Pospisil and Butorac teaming with Klaasen to reach the finals of the Australian Open. Lipsky and Ram didn’t seem to be entirely surprised by this, though, and said that the classically American style of playing still translates the modern doubles game.

“The courts have gotten slower and the game has gotten more physical in recent years, but doubles is still all about offense and Americans are generally pretty good at that,” said Ram. “Most of our champions in the U.S. have been offensive players.”

Next up in the semifinals for Lipsky and Ram are either top-seeded Americans Bob and Mike Bryan or No. 5 seeds David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco of Spain. But regardless of who they play, their game plan will remain the same.

“We just need to keep serving well and going after our second serves,” said Ram. “We want our opponents to feel like one break of serve is pretty much the set.”