Rune follows victory over Djokovic by reaching Italian Open final against Medvedev dance

ROME (AP) — Holger Rune’s run at the Italian Open has already been extraordinary. And it’s not done yet.

The 20-year-old Dane recorded his second victory over Novak Djokovic in just over six months in the quarter-finals. Then he beat Casper Ruud 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals on Saturday.

On Sunday, Rune will look to cap it all with a third straight victory over a top five Foro Italico player when he takes on Daniil Medvedev for the trophy.

Rune improved to 7-1 in his career against top-five ranked players.

“I play some of my best tennis when I play against the best players in the world,” Rune said. “You need it against these players.”

Medvedev beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-5 in a game that was suspended for a total of almost 4½ hours due to rain in two separate stoppages at the end of the first set.

Then on Campo Centrale, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina was due to face Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina in the women’s final, which was due to start a few hours earlier.

Making the final marked a turnaround for Medvedev, who has lost his opener in Rome in his previous three appearances. If he beats Rune, Medvedev will drop back to No. 2 in the standings and thus be seeded second for Roland Garros, which begins next weekend.

It will only be the second clay-court final for Medvedev, and the first since 2019.

He celebrated with a little dance after converting his first match point more than six hours into the game.

“It’s like being in the club completely drunk. When you dance – and I have a lot of friends like that – you feel like the god of the dance floor. But then when they have you showed the video, that was not the thing,” Medvedev said. “So I don’t know how it went, but I was just happy to be in my first Masters final on clay. “

Medvedev took up the challenge of the delays: “Sometimes it can discourage you, you can be a little angry. Today, I don’t know why, I was just laughing.

Seventh-seeded Rune dropped a set and a break before defeating Ruud, who had won the previous four encounters.

“It’s crazy. I’ve really played some of my best tennis, especially the last two games, first against Novak and then against Casper,” Rune said. I find my best tennis. And I didn’t find it today, only at the end.

This will be Rune’s third clay-court final this season after losing to Andrey Rublev in Monte Carlo and defeating Botic van de Zandschulp in Munich.

“He plays very fearless, takes the ball early, which is really impressive to do on clay,” Ruud said. “It’s not very typical to do too well on clay because you have bad rebounds. … A few times I played heavy, he just soared, hit clean winner.

Norway’s Ruud, ranked fourth, reached the final last year at Roland Garros, losing to Rafael Nadal, who announced on Thursday that he would not compete in Paris due to a hip injury which left him has spread since January.

The semi-final was filled with memorable points, starting with Ruud knocking down a bunt and responding with a tricky but steeply angled winner in game two.

Rune was ready the next time Ruud attempted the same shot and knocked down a seemingly impossible ball outside the doubles lane, sending Ruud back to the baseline before finishing the point with a volley winner. Rune waved his hands to cause the crowd to roar.

After giving up his serve midway through the second set, Rune took a medical time-out to get treatment for his right shoulder. When play resumed, Rune took control, producing an 83mph (134kph) forehand winner on a first serve as he broke to take the second set.

Early in the third, Rune whipped another forehand crossover after being taken out of the field.

“There were some great rallies. It was a fun game to play,” Ruud said. “Plus, I think the crowd enjoyed it.”


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