Medvedev outclasses Rune to win Italian Open in Rome
Daniil Medvedev has claimed the first clay-court title of his career ahead of the French Open, beating rising star Holger Rune 7-5 7-5 in a gripping, rain-delayed Italian Open final.
Medvedev's fifth title of a stellar season and 20th overall leaves him as perhaps the outstanding contender for Roland Garros which begins on May 28.
The 27-year-old, who was out of the top 10 in February, is set to climb to No.2 in the world and will take the second seeding behind Carlos Alcaraz in Paris, with Novak Djokovic dropping down to three.
Russian star Medvedev drew first blood on Sunday in the first Rome final since 2004 not to feature 22-times grand slam champions Rafael Nadal or Djokovic.
He broke in the 12th game where he met a feeble drop shot from Rune with a powerful drive to wrap up the first set.
Rune, at 20 the youngest finalist at the Foro Italico since Spaniard Nadal 17 years ago, broke to love in the first game of the second set and pounced again for a 4-3 lead after Medvedev hit back to level the scores.
But the aggressive world No.7 appeared to run out of steam late in a physically demanding spell to hand the advantage back to Medvedev, who produced a tight hold thanks to two huge serves before closing out the victory in style.
"I always want to believe in myself and I always try to do my best as I want to win the biggest tournaments in the world," Medvedev, who had not won a match in Rome before this year's tournament, said.
"At the same time, honestly I didn't believe much I can win a Masters 1000 on clay in my career because usually I hated it and I didn't feel good on it, nothing was working.
"Before this tournament already in Madrid and Monte Carlo I was not feeling too bad. I didn't have any big tantrums and was like 'OK, let's continue' and here I felt amazing in practice.
"But then you need to play the toughest opponents in the world and try to make it. I'm really happy that I managed to do it and prove to myself and everybody that I'm capable."