Daniil Medvedev jokingly thanked umpire Carlos Bernardes after winning the first clay-court title of his career at the Italian Open. The chair official overruled one of Holger Rune’s shots and called it out on championship point, handing Medvedev a 7-5 7-5 victory. And the world No 3 admitted that he never expected to win a Masters 1000 on the clay given his previous dislike for the surface.
Medvedev enjoyed a stunning turnaround in Rome this year, as he came into the tournament having never won a match. The 27-year-old now ends the fortnight as the champion, lifting the 20th title of his career and his first on the clay.
The third seed rallied to win the last four games of the match from 3-5 down in the second set and clinched victory on a bizarre championship point which saw the umpire call one of Rune’s shots long on the baseline mid-rally. Both men accepted the decision and Medvedev fell to his knees in celebration.
The former world No 1 then paid tribute to the chair official in his victory speech as he admitted he would have just kept on playing. “I have to say thanks to Carlos, I don’t see him,” the newly-crowned champion said.
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He added: “Because I actually thought the last ball was in and it was out by far. And he saw it first so thank you Carlos, I don’t see him but thanks a lot. Otherwise I would continue the point.” And Medvedev continued to share his disbelief at winning a Masters 1000 title on clay given his record on the surface.
After congratulating Rune and thanking his team, the 27-year-old told his wife and coach: “Who would’ve thought I would be standing here? I honestly didn’t, I don’t know about you guys but I honestly didn’t think so. But it happened, I’m really happy.” Medvedev had already admitted that he didn’t expect to lift the trophy during his pre-ceremony interview, confessing that he “hated” the clay.
“I mean, I always want to believe in myself and I always try to do my best, I want to win the biggest tournaments in the world. At the same time honestly, I didn’t believe much I could win a Masters 1000 on clay in my career because usually I hated it, I hated playing on it, I didn’t feel good on it like nothing is working so I can continue forever,” he said.
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Asked if he had formed a friendship with the surface, Medvedev admitted that hard courts were his only love but conceded that he now liked the dirt. He responded: “Friendship. I don’t think I love it, I love hard courts, my only love… in tennis. But I definitely like clay courts way more now.”
With the win, Medvedev will rise to No 2 in the rankings. And it’s a significant change, as Novak Djokovic drops to No 3 in the world, leaving him to be the third seed at the French Open behind Carlos Alcaraz and Medvedev. It means he could face Alcaraz in the semi-final.
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