Daniil Medvedev and Holger Rune lock horns in the men's Italian Open final in Rome on Sunday and the victor would mark themselves down as a leading title contender for the French Open, with the second Grand Slam of the season getting underway next weekend.
Success for Medvedev would see him leapfrog Novak Djokovic into the world number two spot while victory for Rune would reward him with his second ATP Masters 1000 crown.
Medvedev is eyeing his sixth ATP Masters 1000 title but it would be a first on clay whereas 20-year-old Rune, who is rapidly rising up the rankings and is already at world number six, looks made for this terrain.
Rune, a junior French Open champion, is 8/11 to come out on top with Medvedev 11/10 to take the title in the Italian capital.
|What||ATP Rome final: Holger Rune v Daniil Medvedev|
|Where||Foro Italico, Rome, Italy|
|When||15:00, Sunday 21st May 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 live Sports Streaming, Amazon Prime|
|Odds||Holger Rune 8/11, Daniil Medvedev 11/10|
Despite competing in the main draw in Rome for the first time, Rune has had no problem booking his ticket in the final and has completed the task in impressive style.
The 20-year-old has shown his liking for this slower surface on countless occasions.
A former junior French Open champion, Rune made the quarter-final in the main draw of the Paris Grand Slam last season and was also runner-up to Andrey Rublev in Monte Carlo in April.
It was only a matter of time until Rune made his presence felt in an illustrious clay-court event and winning in Rome would be a second ATP Masters 1000 title after his victory in the Paris Masters in November.
The Danish star is now an established top-ten performer and, along with Spanish phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz, looks a likely candidate to carry the baton for the young generation once Djokovic and Rafael Nadal finally choose to call it a day.
Despite only making his first final on the ATP Tour in April last year, Rune is already chasing a fifth title in what is only his eighth final.
And Rune has had to do it the hard way at Rome's Foro Italico.
Routine wins over Arthur Fils and Fabio Fognini kickstarted his Italian adventure but the Danish star has needed three sets to overcome Alexei Popyrin, Djokovic and Casper Ruud in the last three rounds.
His semi-final victory over last year’s French Open runner-up Ruud was particularly impressive, given he had previously lost all four meetings with the Norwegian.
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After a quiet 2022 campaign, Medvedev is back firing on all cylinders and has won 38 of his 43 matches this season.
The Russian is chasing a second Masters 1000 title of the year, having scooped top prize in Miami in April, and winning in Rome would reward him with a 20th career win.
However, the 27-year-old is bidding to claim what would be his maiden clay-court crown.
After losing 6-3 6-4 to Rune on the Monte Carlo clay in April, Medvedev said he thought the Dane was one of top players on the surface.
Medvedev, who claimed his only Grand Slam title to date at the US Open in 2021, is a self-proclaimed “hard court specialist” and certainly has his work cut out against Rune in these conditions.
The Russian had never won a match in three previous appearances in the Italian capital, yet something has clicked for him over the past fortnight.
The current world number three has dropped only one set across his five tournament wins, with back-to-back straight-set wins over Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas highlighting a marked improvement on the slower surface.
Rune readily outclassed Medvedev in their only previous meeting in Monte Carlo in April, a performance that left the Russian full of compliments for the Danish youngster.
There is no doubt that clay suits Rune far better than it does Medvedev with his shot-making ability and squeaky clean baseline performances often overwhelming his opponents.
The 20-year-old is already a two-time title winner on clay and he has won 18 of his last 22 matches in ATP Masters 1000 tournaments.
Not only that, but his wins in Rome over Djokovic and Ruud mean he has a stunning 7-1 record against top-five opponents, something that stands him in good stead against Medvedev.
Rune tends to play better against stronger opponents and he is much happier on this slower surface than the Russian, which makes him a strong betting proposition at 8/11.
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