Medvedev sinks Rune, claims 1st clay-court title

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ROME — Daniil Medvedev hadn’t won a single match in his three previous appearances at the Italian Open.

Now he has won the tournament.

The Russian beat rising 20-year-old Danish player Holger Rune 7-5, 7-5 Sunday for the first clay-court trophy of a career that includes the 2021 US 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 — which starts next Sunday, May 28.

There’s room for a new champion at Roland Garros after 14-time winner Rafael Nadal announced Thursday 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 after a rain delay — a day after Medvedev’s semifinal win over Stefanos Tsitsipas was interrupted by rain suspensions for a total of nearly 4½ hours.

Earlier Sunday, organizers announced that they plan to install a retractable roof over Campo Centrale by 2026.

When the new rankings are released Monday, 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.

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