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Ricky’s pick for the Rome final: Daniil Medvedev vs. Holger Rune

On his worst surface and in relatively slow conditions, Daniil Medvedev had never won a match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia prior to this season. That’s right; not one match.

Nothing has changed about the Rome Masters; in fact, if anything conditions in 2023 are even slower than usual with how rainy and even somewhat cold the weather has been throughout this fortnight. It does, though, look like much different clay-court version of Medvedev.

Picking up his level on dirt in a major way, the 27-year-old–who also advanced to the quarters of the Monte-Carlo Masters last month–is through to the Rome title match following defeats of Emil Ruusuvuori, Bernabe Zapata Miralles, Alexander Zverev, Yannick Hanfmann, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Standing in Medvedev’s way of the tropghy on Sunday is Holger Rune. Their only previous encounter just came in Monte-Carlo and it was Rune who ended the Russian’s run with a 6-3, 6-4 win. It has been full steam ahead for the 20-year-old since then, with a title in Munich and now a third appearance in a Masters 1000 final. Rune has advance with victories over Arthur Fils, Fabio Fognini, Alexei Popyrin, Novak Djokovic, and Casper Ruud.

Medvedev finished his SF match much later than Rune on Saturday, but thanks to a stellar performance he avoided a third set against Tsitsipas. On the other hand, Rune needed two hours and 43 minutes to get past Ruud 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2 from a set and a break down. That could be a factor in the final, because you know Medvedev is going to turn this into a grueling battle from the back of the court.

Medvedev is 5-3 for his career in Masters 1000 finals and all three of his losses have come to opponents ranked in the top two of the world rankings at at the time (Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Carlos Alcaraz). With the French Open No. 2 seed on the line in Sunday’s match, Medvedev will be extremely motivated to secure a sixth Masters title.

Pick: Medvedev in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.