Elite Prospects

‘Never thought I would be able to make this’

Daniil Medvedev with the Italian Open trophy

IMAGE: Russia’s Daniil Medvedev with the Italian Open trophy. Photograph: Internazionali BNL d’Italia/Twitter

Given his solid form on European clay courts prior to Rome, the World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev expressed surprise at his title run in Italy, admitting that the unexpected nature of his victory made it one of his greatest to date.

It was Medvedev’s maiden ATP Tour title on clay at any level, let alone at a Masters 1000. The 27-year-old had not won a match in his previous three visits to the Italian Open, but he concluded a dream run by overcoming Holger Rune to win in Rome on Sunday.

“In a way [this is my] number one [success], just because it’s the first one on clay and it’s unbelievable. I would never have thought I would be able to make this. Then [I] have to be honest, a Grand Slam is always bigger. [The 2021] US Open is always number one there,” said Medvedev in his post-match press conference.


“This one is special because I didn’t think it was going to be able to happen, [that I was] going to be able to make it. I still kind of don’t believe… Not that I won it, but I played so well this week. I don’t believe it. The way I played, I’m really happy. Happy to have this trophy back home in some time,” he added.

Medvedev’s deep groundstrokes have been a major component of his clay-court progression. His baseline retrieving has been the foundation of his hard-court success, and he attributed his success on the clay this year to a string change at the start of the 2023 season.

“Straightaway in Australia [with the new strings] actually, where I lost, with my coach we were like, ‘Wow, I have the easy depth on the ball, which is amazing. In Australia, [it] didn’t work. I was 100 per cent doubting myself. Should I go back to the old ones, I was playing well with them? I said no, let’s try more. Now it’s unbelievable,” said Medvedev.

The 20-time tour-level champion believes that playing under championship-match pressure at Masters 1000 events helped him retain his cool against Rune.

“For sure, every time you play a big final, it’s an experience. It’s an experience for the next one. For example, both Miami and here, I felt like the start was so-so, then I managed to get into the match more and more and play better and better,” said Medvedev.

“When I played my first [ATP Masters 1000 final, in Montreal in 2019], it was against Rafa [Nadal]. I got destroyed. I started bad, as I kind of started these matches, and then I was only playing worse and worse. The next one I managed to win against Goffin [in Cincinnati in 2019]. It was a tight match for both of us. We knew it’s going to be the first one for us,” the 2023 Italian Open champion said.

“With experience, I managed to do better at this moment, so maybe that helped. But then in general terms, after Miami, I was feeling confident, good,” the 27-year-old added.

French Open offers players tool to filter out online abuse

The French Open is offering players at this year’s tournament free access to a tool that will filter hateful messages on their social media platforms in a bid to prevent cyberbullying and harassment, organisers said on Monday.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) said that artificial intelligence will be used to moderate comments players receive on posts in real time – with responses analysed in less than 200 milliseconds – and care will be taken about what is censored.

“As part of its strategy to take care of the players’ mental health, the FFT decided to collaborate with ‘Bodyguard’ to fight against cyberbullying,” the FFT said in a statement.

“A team of linguists creates word patterns that enable the system to be updated in real time according to what is posted on social media, in order to generate a more contextual analysis.”

The FFT added that the technology will be used to protect all official FFT and Roland Garros social media accounts as well as those of players who opt for it for the duration of the Grand Slam and at least a week after the tournament has ended.

Social media platforms that will be monitored are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Discord.

“We will not accept any form of violence at our tournament,” FFT director Caroline Flaissier said.

“We’re very proud to be the first Grand Slam tournament to offer players a solution that efficiently protects them against cyberbullying.

“We want to protect players from this damaging behaviour, to enable them to be in peak mental condition when they compete in the tournament.”

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