Medvedev Defeat Rune In Straight Sets In Italian Open Final
Daniil Medvedev was the winner at the 2023 Italian Open final in Rome on Sunday afternoon, when he defeated his Danish opponent 7-5 7-5. The Russian was the better of the pair as he battled to a win on his unfavoured surface. Medvedev has previously discussed his problems on clay but he overcame his problem as he prepares for Roland-Garros in the coming wweks.
Daniil Medvedev completed his transformation on clay with a hard-fought victory over Holger Rune to claim a shock Italian Open triumph.
The Russian has made no secret of his discomfort with the surface in the past but put the icing on the cake for a sparkling run in Rome, where he had previously never won a match, to defeat the 20-year-old Dane 7-5 7-5 in one hour and 42 minutes.
Medvedev will now rise above Novak Djokovic to No. 2 in the world and will be seeded second at Roland Garros.
The Russian also takes his overall tally of titles on the men’s tour to 20 with his sixth at Masters 1000 level and a first on the red dirt.
It caps a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the former US Open champion having been 0-3 in Rome prior to this season and famously saying to himself: “You like to be in the dirt like a dog,” during a defeat to Aslan Karatsev at this very same tournament just two years ago.
Medvedev’s triumph marks a vast improvement on the surface since just last month as he lost to Rune in the Monte Carlo last eight, but he came good here and levels their head-to-head at 1-1 overall.
Speaking on court after stretching his record to 39-5 for the season and 10-2 on clay (3-2 last year), Medvedev said: “I always want to believe in myself and I always want to win the biggest tournaments in the world. But at the same time, I didn’t think I could win a Masters 1000 on clay in my career because usually I hated it, I hated playing on it. I didn’t feel good on it and nothing was working.
“Before this tournament already in Madrid and Monte-Carlo I wasn’t feeling too bad. I thought, ‘OK, let’s continue’. Then when I came here I felt so good in practice and I told my coach, ‘I don’t know what is happening but I am feeling amazing, so let’s see how it goes’.
“But then you have to play the toughest opponents in the world to try to make it. I am really happy I managed to do it and to prove to myself and everyone else that I am capable of doing it.”
The mixed weather that has blighted this fortnight of tennis in Rome once again led to a lengthy one hour and 40-minute delay to the proceedings but, when the final did get underway, it was the No.7 seed Rune who made the early running, dropping just three points in his first three service games and posing the more significant questions on the return.
Medvedev, 27, had to work hard to fend off the Dane, scrapping back from 0-30 to dig out a tricky hold before leaning on some clutch serves to save two break points from deuce to edge 3-2 ahead after a pair of double faults had put him in deep trouble.
Prior to the eighth game, with the sun nudging out behind the dispersing clouds, the Roman crowd erupted in spontaneous applause as Jose Mourinho’s image appeared on the big screens. The Roma boss, a keen tennis fan, was again in the VIP seats on Campo Centrale after leading AS Roma to the Europa League final on Thursday night.
That encounter with Bayer Leverkusen was a close affair and this opening set was equally tight with both players refusing to budge. However, Rune was up against the scoreboard pressure and he creaked for the first time when trying to force a tie-break.
No.3 seed Medvedev earned his first break point of the match in Game 12 when he outmanoeuvred his opponent to lure a lob just long, and he made it count to pinch the opener in 47 minutes with a rasping crosscourt winner to punish a drop shot with too much air.
Rune, who was featuring in the main draw in Rome for the very first time, responded to the setback instantly at the start of Set 2, consolidating for a 2-0 lead after unloading off both flanks on his way to an emphatic break to love.
Medvedev came roaring back with three games in a row, snaring the break back when he twice dug out passes up the line with the Dane exposed at the net.
The Russian looked on course for a tour-leading fifth title and 39th match-win of the campaign, but he suddenly imploded to cough up another break in Game 7 with a pair of poor drive volleys and a costly double fault after Rune had won the longest tally of the contest with a sizzling backhand up the line.
The Dane, who is the youngest player to reach the Rome final since Rafael Nadal (19) in his title run of 2006, had the chance to serve out the set 6-4 – and was twice a break up – but threw in a succession of tight errors to allow Medvedev a reprieve and level at 5-5.
The Russian then piled on the pressure again at 6-5 and Rune could not cope, succumbing on a second match to allow Medvedev to win a 20th tour level title in his 20th different tournament in the first final in Rome not to feature Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic since 2004.