With his fifth title of the 2023 season, Daniil Medvedev is shaping up as a legitimate contender for Roland Garros
Photos by Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters
(Reuters) -Daniil Medvedev claimed the first clay court title of his career ahead of the French Open as the Russian world number three beat Denmark’s Holger Rune 7-5 7-5 in a gripping Italian Open final that began after a rain delay on Sunday.
Medvedev’s fifth title of a stellar season and 20th overall leaves him as one of the top contenders for Roland Garros, which begins on May 28.
The 27-year-old, who was out of the top 10 in February, is set to climb to number two in the world and will take the second seeding behind Carlos Alcaraz in Paris, with Novak Djokovic dropping down to number three.
Medvedev drew first blood in the first Rome final since 2004 not to feature 22-time Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal or Djokovic, breaking in the 12th game where he met a feeble drop shot from Rune with a powerful drive to wrap up the first set.
Rune, at 20 the youngest finalist at the Foro Italico since Spaniard Nadal 17 years ago, broke to love in the first game of the second set and pounced again for a 4-3 lead after Medvedev hit back to level the scores.
But the aggressive world number seven appeared to run out of steam late in a physically demanding spell to hand the advantage back to Medvedev, who produced a tight hold thanks to two huge serves before closing out the victory in style.
“I always want to believe in myself and I always try to do my best as I want to win the biggest tournaments in the world,” Medvedev, who had not won a match in Rome before this year’s tournament, said.
“I always want to believe in myself and I always try to do my best as I want to win the biggest tournaments in the world,” Daniil Medvedev, who had not won a match in Rome before this year’s tournament, said
“At the same time, honestly I didn’t believe much I can win a Masters 1000 on clay in my career because usually I hated it and I didn’t feel good on it, nothing was working.”
“Before this tournament already in Madrid and Monte Carlo I was not feeling too bad. I didn’t have any big tantrums and was like ‘OK, let’s continue’ and here I felt amazing in practice.”
“But then you need to play the toughest opponents in the world and try to make it. I’m really happy that I managed to do it and prove to myself and everybody that I’m capable.”
Rune said he was targeting his maiden Grand Slam title in Paris after reaching three finals during the clay season.
“I’m a very eager person to win titles. I’ve been close. Hopefully I’ll learn from it,” Munich champion Rune added.
“Paris is the main goal of the clay season. I think I had the matches that I needed to be as well-prepared as possible. Now it is the last small things I want to do better the next time I stay in these big matches.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in BengaluruEditing by Toby Davis)