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Medvedev Tops Rune in Rome Final for Maiden Clay Crown

Photo credit: Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Compulsive truth teller Daniil Medvedev continues popping off—spraying a red clay statement win.

Moments after Medvedev defeated Holger Rune 7-5, 7-5, in a resourceful Rome final to capture his first career clay-court championship, he showered the historic red clay with celebratory champagne.

Showing superb closing skills, Medvedev broke in the final game of both sets to capture his 20th career title.

“I would like to congratulate Holger… you’re an amazing player, you have a long career ahead, it was a pleasure to share the final with you,” Medvedev said. “Who would have thought I would be standing here?

“I honestly didn’t think so, but it happened. Thanks [to my team] for helping me reach the heights of my career. Lets go for more.”

It is Medvedev’s ATP-best fifth title of the season as he improves to a Tour-best 39-5 in 2023, and the impact reverberates from Rome all the way to Paris.

This victory not only avenges Medvedev’s Monte-Carlo loss to Rune last month, it powers him back to world No. 2 in the rankings, ensuring he will be the second seed at Roland Garros.

Medvedev’s maiden clay crown means two-time Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic, who is playing for a men’s record 23rd major in Paris, will be bumped to the third seed. That means Djokovic, who fell to Rune in the Rome quarterfinals, and world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz could collide before the final.

The 2021 US Open champion, who has won 18 of his 20 titles on hard court, had sarcastically branded himself a “hard-court specialist.”

“Super happy to win a Masters 1000 on clay; I’m feeling great, it’s the best week on clay in my life,” Medvedev told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “It’s always great to come into a Grand Slam with a lot of confidence, but you always have strong opponents there, it’s five sets, you need to be 100 percent and that’s what I’m going to try to do. I still have not that big expectations but I know that I can do better than I thought so that’s good.”

Arriving in Rome aiming for his first match win at the Foro Italico, Medvedev won 12 of the 13 sets he played in Rome knocking off two Roland Garros contenders—former French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rune—in succession. Medvedev joins Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi as third man to win Miami and Rome in the same season.

The seventh-seeded Rune rode a 13-2 clay-court record and a seven-match winning streak vs. Top 5 opponents into this final. But Medvedev looked stronger in extended exchanges, seemed to wear the 20-year-old Dane down in the latter stages and converted four of six break-point chances.

“I want to say congrats to Daniil, you played amazing this season, winning your first title on clay, very well done so congrats to you and your team,” Rune said. “It’s been an amazing week for me in Rome. I love the Italian vibe, the food, so everything is amazing.”