(Rome) Daniil Medvedev hadn’t won a match in his three previous Italian Open appearances.

Now he is the title holder.

The Russian defeated 20-year-old Dane Holger Rune in straight sets 7-5, 7-5 on Sunday to claim his first career title in a tournament played on clay.

Medvedev, who was once world number one and won the US Open in 2021, was previously renowned for his prowess on hard courts. He signed 18 of his 19 titles on this surface and the exception came on the grass in Mallorca.

Medvedev will now be seen as a contender for the title at Roland Garros, the only major tournament played on clay.

And there is room for a new champion at this tournament, after Rafael Nadal, who has won the French Open 14 times, announced he would not take part in the tournament this year due to injury. at the hip.

“Honestly, I didn’t believe I could win a Masters 1000 on clay in my career because I hated it. I hated that surface and didn’t feel good on it. But even before this tournament, I felt pretty good in Madrid and Monte Carlo.

“I came here, I felt extraordinarily good in training. I am very happy that I was able to prove myself and to have been able to prove to everyone that I was capable of winning on clay,” Medvedev underlined.

Medvedev also felt good after beating Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the semi-finals. He even celebrated his victory with a little dance.

Rune, who knocked out six-time Roma champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, is also expected to leave Foro Italico with a lot of confidence ahead of the Roland-Garros tournament. He lost in the final in Monte-Carlo before triumphing on clay in Munich.

“I may have expected too much of myself, even though I told myself not to,” Rune explained. I probably served worse today than in previous matches. It is also an important factor because Medvedev is combative. If he has the opportunity to fight, the exchanges will be long and you have seen him during certain points. »

When the new men’s world rankings are released on Monday, Medvedev will move up to second place as Carlos Alcaraz returns to the top. Djokovic will go from the first to the third level. They will be the first three seeds in Paris.