Rome: Daniil Medvedev overcame persistent rain to clinch a win over Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the men's singles semifinal of the ongoing Italian Open on Saturday to set up a clash with Holger Rune for the title.
Medvedev won against Tsitsipas by 7-5, 7-5 to reach the finals of this ATP Masters 1000 event.
Prior to this year, Medvedev had not won a match in his three previous trips in Rome, but he delivered a rock-solid performance in a rain-affected semi-final to advance to his first clay-court ATP Masters 1000 title event. Medvedev hit deep groundstrokes and used his drop shot efficiently throughout his one-hour, 47-minute victory, setting up a final match against Holger Rune.
The fact that Medvedev and Tsitsipas were twice halted by rain in Rome during a match that began at 4:25 p.m. local time and ended just over five hours later added to their amazing performance. Between sets, Medvedev converted all four break points he received, increasing his ATP Head2Head series lead over the Greek to 8-4.
"I enjoyed playing today. It was very tough with the rain delay, I warmed up like six or seven times, but actually, sometimes it can throw you off, you can be a little bit angry [about] the situation. Today, I don't know why, I was just kind of laughing," said Medvedev after the match as quoted by ATP.
"There were so many moments where I was with my coach, [and he said], 'OK they are opening the court, let's go warm up'. We [went] there, started warming up, [and received a] text: 'The rain is heavy, stop warming up'. We were laughing about this, we were actually OK. [We said], 'OK, we [will] play', and that's what we managed to do," he added.
In the 11th game of both sets, it was Medvedev's heavy returning through the damp clay which proved to be a point of difference. Medvedev, a 19-time tour-level champion kept his composure throughout the match and earned his 38th win of the season which puts him at the very top of the ongoing ATP Tour.
Sunday's title clash will be Medvedev's ninth Masters 1000 title match, but only his second ATP Tour final on clay courts, and his first since Barcelona in 2019. If he wins, Medvedev will overtake Novak Djokovic to become the Number 2 player in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
Despite expressing that he does not favour clay courts, Medvedev's performance on this surface has been great. He reached the final eight stage of the Monte Carlo Open and reached the fourth round in the Madrid Open. His run in Italian Open is a sign that he can play with the best in the business on clay.
Earlier, Rune on Saturday earned a stunning comeback victory against Casper Ruud to advance to the Italian Open final.
In a tight clash, Rune rallied from a breakdown in the second set to overcome Ruud 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2.
Rune, who is making his debut in Rome, defeated Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
The 20-year-old used powerful groundstrokes and exquisite touch at times to outwit Ruud in a series of cat-and-mouse exchanges to progress after two hours and 41 minutes.
"I had nothing to lose in the second [set], so I just told myself to play freely and enjoy it as I thought it would be my last set here. I told myself to play aggressively and enjoy it and I did it and that was the key to comeback," ATP.com quoted Rune as saying.
"I really played some of my best tennis in the past two matches against Novak and then Casper. Two difficult players to play, so I had to find my best tennis and I actually didn't find it today, only at the end and that is why I turned it around," Rune said.
Rune won his first Masters 1000 championship in Paris last year and will compete for his sixth tour-level trophy and second at the Masters 1000 level.