Rajeev Ram certainly knows his way around a doubles court. The reigning Australian Open champion has won 20 doubles titles throughout his career, and was ranked as high as No. 5 earlier this season.
One of the most profound sayings in doubles is that if you're really good, you can win with anyone. Ram has proven that statement true with title runs alongside Joe Salisbury, Raven Klaasen, Marcel Granollers, Scott Lipsky, Nenad Zimonjic, Eric Butorac, Austin Krajicek and more.
It also helps that the 36-year-old knows exactly what he looks for in a partner: communication, athleticism and a big serve.
"You really need to have someone who you feel like you can trust, you can be open with," he said on the TENNIS.com Podcast. "That communication part has to be there, first and foremost. The best thing I can do on the doubles court is get my partner to play well. If he plays well, then it makes my job so much easier. I don't have to do much."
The Indiana native has a big-serving smooth game modeled after Pete Sampras, and movement isn't his best asset in the sport.
"I'm certainly not the fastest, most agile player out there, so I try to look for someone who's maybe a pretty good athlete to start with and can cover a bit more of the court that way," Ram said, adding he likes to set up his partner who can then "clean up".
Ram's has also thrived in mixed doubles; he won the 2019 Australian Open with Barbora Krejcikova and the Olympic silver medal with Venus Williams in Rio.
"To be honest, the medal felt like icing on the cake a little bit," Ram said of Rio. "It was just the experience that I got to be a part of that was just so incredible. Playing with the legend of the game, that sort of happened at the eleventh hour when we were picking [partners]. And then we actually played another American team in the final. So it was pretty cool that that worked out the way that it did."
Unfortunately, Ram and Venus would lose out on the gold medal to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock in a tight deciding tiebreaker. There's still a chance they get another shot at gold in 2021.
Like many other players, Ram is about to start gearing up for what could be late-summer return to the tour. Hopefully he can pick up right where he left off, winning titles.