"Every bounce is a bad bounce, and even when it's a good bounce, you expect a bad bounce. This sentence, uttered by Daniil Medvedev during the last Monaco tournament, reflected quite well what he thought of clay. A month later, the Russian seems to have come to terms with a surface that had never worked for him before. Sunday, May 21, the third world won his first title on ocher by winning the Masters 1000 in Rome, against the Dane Holger Rune (7-5, 7-5).
“I always wanted to believe in myself, but if someone had told me I was going to win a Masters 1000 on clay in my career, I wouldn't have believed it. I felt incredibly good in Rome, said Medvedev at the ATP microphone, he who had never won a match in this tournament in three appearances. I proved to myself that I was capable of beating the best in the world on this surface. »
After having struggled to digest the conquest of the first place in the world last season, the Russian returns this year to the level which allowed him to win the US Open in 2021. By winning his twentieth career tournament, he signs the same his thirty-ninth victory on the circuit this season: no player has done so well.
Much more experienced than 20-year-old Holger Rune, Medvedev was not the favorite when he entered center court an hour and a half late – the final, like most matches of the week, was delayed due to the rain that fell on the Roman capital. This underdog status was due both to the Russian's allergy to clay and to his opponent's recent results, revealed when he won the Paris-Bercy Masters 1000 in November 2022 and was a finalist in the recent Monte Masters 1000. -Carlo.
In the euphoria of his victory at the end of the night the day before against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Russian entered the meeting better than the Dane. After saving two break points, he was the first to take his opponent's serve at 6-5, pocketing the set at the same time on his first break chance of the match.
One more suitor for Roland-Garros
Far from being destabilized by the scenario of the match, the young Dane erased his nervousness at the start of the second set to immediately take the service of his opponent on a shutout. An advantage that he only kept for a few minutes, but which he managed to recover at the end of the match to serve for the win in the second set (5-4). Unfortunately for him, he was again overtaken by his feverishness and did not score a game, practically offering the last to a Medvedvev who did not ask for so much and collapsed on the ground on the match point.
This tighter success than the score of two sets to zero would suggest (Medvedev made one more winning move than the Dane, for as many faults) has a direct impact on the classification since it allows the Muscovite to grab a rank and take second place, ahead of Novak Djokovic. He also moved to the top of the Race, the ranking of the best player of the season.
A few days before the start of Roland-Garros (from May 28 to June 11), this Roman week has in any case confirmed that the Parisian Grand Slam will be open as rarely it has been in the 21st century. First by the expected and feared announcement of Rafael Nadal's package from his academy in Mallorca, then by the much less predictable results of the Italian tournament.
Favorites designated at Roland-Garros, Novak Djokovic and the one who will succeed him at the top of the ATP ranking on Monday, Carlos Alcaraz, both lost precipitously. The Serb fell against Holger Rune in the quarter-finals, while the Spaniard lost in his second match, against the Hungarian Fabian Marozsan, yet 122nd in the world.
Behind, the outsiders Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev have therefore gained confidence before the start of the Paris fortnight. Just like Casper Ruud (finalist at Roland-Garros 2022, and semi-finalist in Rome), Stefanos Tsitsipas (semi-finalist in Rome too) and Andrey Rublev (winner in Monte-Carlo). If we already know that Rafael Nadal will not pocket a fifteenth crown at Roland-Garros this year, it is difficult to say who will succeed him.