Persistent rain in Rome was not enough to stop Daniil Medvedev securing another clay-court breakthrough on Saturday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he downed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-5 to reach the final at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Medvedev had not won a match in three appearances in Rome prior to this year, but he delivered a rock-solid display in a rain-affected semi-final to advance to his maiden clay-court ATP Masters 1000 championship match. Medvedev consistently struck his groundstrokes deep and used his drop shot effectively throughout for a one-hour, 47-minute triumph to set a championship-match clash against Holger Rune.

The absence of any real dips in Medvedev’s level was made more impressive by the fact he and Tsitsipas were twice interrupted by rain in Rome during a match that started at 4:25 p.m. local time and finished just more than five hours later. In between, Medvedev converted all four break points he earned to improve his ATP Head2Head series lead against the Greek to 8-4.

“I enjoyed playing today,” said Medvedev. “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.

“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.”

Medvedev’s heavy returning through the damp clay earned him a decisive break in the 11th game of both sets. The 19-time tour-level titlist Medvedev then kept his cool behind serve on both occasions to notch a Tour-leading 38th victory of the season.

Sunday’s final will be Medvedev’s ninth Masters 1000 championship match but just his second clay-court ATP Tour final, and his first since Barcelona in 2019. Should he triumph, Medvedev will rise above Novak Djokovic to become No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday.

Despite frequently admitting he does not favour clay courts, Medvedev has performed well on the surface so far this year. He reached the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo and the fourth round in Madrid, and his Rome run is another sign that the former World No. 1 can mix it with the best on Tour on the red dirt.

The in-form Rune will be another tough test for Medvedev, however. The Dane, who earlier defeated Casper Ruud 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-2 to reach the final on his Rome debut, prevailed in the pair’s only previous tour-level meeting in Monte-Carlo in April.