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

Internazionali BNL D'Italia 2023 - Day Eleven

ROME, ITALY - MAY 18: Daniil Medvedev plays a backhand in his men’s singles quarter-final match against Yannick Hanfmann of Germany during day eleven of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia at Foro Italico on May 18, 2023 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

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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 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.

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

Rune, who eliminated six-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, should also leave the Foro Italico confident for Paris. He was also the runner-up to Andrey Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters last month and then won a clay title in Munich.

The final started nearly two hours late due to a rain delay - a day after Medvedev’s semifinal win over Stefanos Tsitsipas was interrupted by rain suspensions for a total of nearly 4 ½ hours.

Organizers announced that they plan to install a retractable roof over Campo Centrale by 2026.

When the new rankings are released, Medvedev will rise to No. 2 and Carlos Alcaraz will return to No. 1, while Djokovic will drop from No. 1 to No. 3. Alcaraz, Medvedev and Djokovic therefore will be seeded first, second and third, respectively, at the French Open.