Daniil Medvedev captured his first clay-court trophy and sixth ATP Masters 1000 crown on Sunday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he defeated 20-year-old Holger Rune 7-5, 7-5.
After the start of the final was delayed by one hour and 40 minutes due to rain, the 27-year-old came out and produced a consistent, clean-hitting display. He sat deep behind the baseline and absorbed pressure on the red clay in Rome and twice rallied from a break down in the second set against the seventh seed Rune, who was aiming to win his second Masters 1000 title.
Medvedev had never won a match in three previous appearances in Rome before this season. He produced some of his best clay-court tennis in the Italian capital, though, also defeating 2017 champion Alexander Zverev and 2022 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“I always want to believe in myself and I always want to win the biggest tournaments in the world,” said Medvedev, who dropped just one set en route to the title. “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.”
Superb forehand display from Daniil today! 🤩@DaniilMedwed defeated Rune with a 8.7 #shotquality on the forehand.@tennis_insights pic.twitter.com/xHVha8m65h
— ATP Tour (@atptour) May 21, 2023
Medvedev has clinched a Tour-leading five titles this season, including the trophy in Miami last month. He is first in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and is up to No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings after earning his 39th win of the season in one hour and 41 minutes.
“It was a tough match,” Medvedev said. “I think we were both a bit nervous at the start and I think we were both missing our basics. We were missing some easy shots, so I am happy I managed to step it up at the end of the first set. But then at the start of the second set he stepped it up straight away and I was like ‘OK, this is the moment I have to start playing better and go to his level’. Then it was a top match from this stage.”
.@DaniilMedwed 2023 by the Numbers +
– 39 Wins
– 29 Hard Court Wins
– 20 #ATPMasters1000 Wins
– 6 Top 10 Wins
– 6 Finals
– 5 Titles
– 4 Hard Court Titles
+ Leads #ATPTour in all categories
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) May 21, 2023
Rune was trying to become the youngest player to win the title in Rome since then-19-year-old Rafael Nadal lifted the trophy in 2006. The Dane defeated Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud en route to the final and holds a 7-2 record against Top 5 opponents.
Rune triumphed at the Rolex Paris Masters last year and is up one spot to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his run to the final on debut in Rome. Earlier this season, the Dane defeated Medvedev en route to the title match in Monte-Carlo, before he captured his fourth tour-level crown in Munich.
In an entertaining final, Medvedev demonstrated patience to hang in rallies and frustrate Rune. The 27-year-old won 83 per cent (20/24) of his first-serve points in the first set and earned the decisive break of the set in the 12th game.
Rune responded by breaking Medvedev’s serve at the start of the second set and was in consistent dialogue with coach Patrick Mouratoglou during changeovers. However, from 5-3 up, Rune faltered.
Medvedev locked in from the baseline and refused to miss, piling the pressure on Rune, who failed to serve out the set, which would have forced a third set. The Dane was then unable to hit through Medvedev in the 12th game of the second set, with the 27-year-old breaking again to level the pair’s ATP Head2Head series at 1-1.
The champion did well to work into Rune’s first-serve points. Medvedev won 48 per cent of his first-serve return points and converted four of his six break points.
Medvedev became the sixth player to win at least six different ATP Masters 1000 events, joining Djokovic (all 9), Roger Federer (8, includes Hamburg), Andre Agassi, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
Did You Know?
Medvedev has won 20 tour-level titles, with all 20 coming at different events.