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Daniil Medvedev defeated Holger Rune (7/5 7/5) in the final of the Rome master on May 21, 2023.  

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The Russian hatred for clay was buried yesterday in Italy. After several years of shouting loudly that this surface was not made for him, he won his first title on clay. This great win isn’t an accident but rather the consequence of hard work over the past few weeks.

Holger Rune was not up to the task. He couldn’t prevent Daniil Medvedev from clinching a fifth title this season. The final wasn’t epic. It highlighted the mental weaknesses of the young Dane; and illustrated the former world number one’s game intelligence.

Daniil Medvedev mastered the first set

Daniil Medvedev started the final with a love game. Holger Rune didn’t hesitate to enter the court when the opportunity was there: 1/1. The Russian played defense. He took steps forward whenever he was forced to stand back. Even if each of his shots were clever, his strikes lacked explosiveness to worry his opponent: 2/2. Daniil Medvedev saved two break points thanks to powerful first serves. Holger Rune made a string of rises to the net while the Russian was held back by his too many unforced errors: 3/3. The Dane showed aggressiveness. Daniil Medvedev took advantage of his opponent’s attacks that open the court to slide balls on the lines: 4/4. Game after game, the Russian improved his level. His unforced errors were replaced by an outstanding court coverage. Holger Rune remained in his opponent’s favorite game patterns: 6/5. The Dane had to serve to stay in the set. The latter’s passiveness allowed Daniil Medvedev to be more aggressive. A mistouched drop shot was sanctioned by a dazzling forehand winner. The Russian led a set to love.

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Without being flaming, Daniil Medvedev took the lead of the final. As the set went on, he raised his level of play. He erased his unforced errors and wearied his opponent. Holger Rune was stuck in the Russian’s preferred style of play: long rallies from the back of the court. The young player didn’t manage to free his creativeness.

The same as before

Holger Rune wasn’t discouraged after the loss of the first set. He used all his power to get an early love break – that he later confirmed. While the young player found back his explosive tennis, Daniil Medvedev was forced to defend: 2/1. Holger Rune didn’t keep his advantage for long. A game, made of unforced errors and mistouched volleys, gave the break back to the Russian: 2/2. Daniil Medvedev played a clever tennis. Even though he didn’t free his strikes, he always played the right shot. Holger Rune’s risk-taking was rewarded. He won an exhausting 38 strikes-rally thanks to a backhand down the line. Worn out, Daniil Medvedev made a series of missed volleys – which gave the break to the young Dane: 5/3. One game later, Holger Rune served for the set. The pressure took hold of him. Tense, he held back his strikes. A string of unforced errors boosted Daniil Medvedev: 5/5. Despite having to save a break point, the latter won his game of serve: 6/5. Holger Rune still didn’t manage to keep it together. A series of three unforced errors gave match points to Daniil Medvedev. The second one was the right one.

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Daniil Medvedev won the last set thanks to his experience. He wasn’t discouraged despite all the breaks he gave away. He remained patient to take advantage of the moments of weakness of his opponent. Thanks to his outstanding lecture of the game, he anticipated his rival’s dropshot and used the opened parts of the court. Even if he is used to play fantastic on clay, Holger Rune didn’t manage to free his game. Points won thanks to his aggressiveness were counterbalance by his too numerous unforced errors hit at the worst moments.

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Daniil Medvedev’s first clay court title comes at the right time. The new points give him back the second spot of the world’s rankings. He’ll start the French Open as the number two seed. If he is lucky, he might be in a draw without Carlos Alcaraz nor Novak Djokovic. For the first time of his career, Daniil Medvedev will arrive in Paris as one of the favorites.

Marnie Abbou

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