Medvedev makes his mark on clay by beating Rune for Italian Open title

  • Daniil Medvedev of Russia lifts the trophy after defeating Denmark's Holger Rune on Sunday in Rome, Italy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME — Daniil Medvedev hadn’t won a single match in his three previous appearances at the Italian Open.

Now he’s won the tournament.


The Russian beat rising 20-year-old Danish player Holger Rune 7-5, 7-5 on Sunday for the first clay-court trophy of a career that includes the 2021 U.S. Open title and a period at No. 1 in the rankings.

Medvedev was previously known almost exclusively for his prowess on hard courts, with 18 of his previous 19 titles coming on that surface — the other was on grass in Mallorca. But he now must be considered a contender at the French Open — the clay-court Grand Slam — which starts next Sunday.

There’s room for a new champion at Roland Garros after 14-time winner Rafael Nadal announced on Thursday that he won’t be competing in the tournament because of a lingering hip injury that has sidelined him since January.

“Honestly, I didn’t believe much I can win a Masters 1000 on clay in my career because usually I hated it. I hated playing on it. I don’t feel good on it, like nothing was working,” Medvedev said.

“(But) before this tournament already in Madrid and Monte Carlo, I was kind of feeling not too bad. I didn’t have any big tantrums,” Medvedev added. “I came here and I felt amazing on practice. … I was like, ‘I don’t know what’s happening, but I feel amazing. Let’s see how it goes.’ But then you need to play the toughest opponents in the world to try to make it. And I’m really happy that I managed to do it and prove myself and everybody that I’m capable of doing it.”

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