Daniil Medvedev arrived at this year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia with 76 ATP Masters 1000 match wins, but none of them had come in Rome.
The 27-year-old added a victory in the Eternal City to his collection in style on Sunday afternoon, when he overcame Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round at the clay-court event.
“It is a little bit [of a relief],” said Medvedev. “We can talk about all of the matches I lost here, they were different. The first one, I feel like I should have won, but it is [what it is]. Whenever I come to a tournament, I know that I can play well, so I’m happy to finally get the win here in Rome.”
Medvedev managed a potentially tricky opening match with a typically resilient display of baseline hitting. He redirected Ruusuvuori’s powerful groundstrokes to great effect on Court Pietrangeli, where he broke the Finn’s serve five times en route to an 88-minute triumph.
With his Tour-leading 32nd match win of the year, the third-seeded Medvedev improved to 10-0 in opening rounds for 2023. After tasting victory on the Rome clay for the first time in four main-draw appearances, the five-time Masters 1000 champion will seek to maintain his momentum in a third-round clash against Bernabe Zapata Miralles.
“I want to win as many matches as possible,” said Medvedev. “I know it can be a little bit trickier for me on clay, but honestly this year I am playing really well.
“The matches I lost, I lost against great opponents who [just] played better than me and not much [else] to say. I’m doing my absolute best and playing well. I already beat a lot of good opponents. Last week [in Madrid] Emil was one of only two players who won a set against Carlos [Alcaraz], so I’m feeling great and just looking forward to trying to play my best tennis until the end of the clay season.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas did not take long to join Medvedev in the third round. After play was suspended due to rain on Saturday evening with the Greek leading Nuno Borges by a set and a break at 6-3, 4-3, the fifth seed won eight of 11 points on Sunday to wrap a 6-3, 6-3 triumph.
The fifth-seeded Tsitsipas reached his maiden Rome final in 2022 and now holds a 10-5 record in the Italian capital. A two-time Masters 1000 champion on clay after he triumphed in Monte-Carlo in 2021 and 2022, the 24-year-old will next take on home favourite Lorenzo Sonego as he chases his first ATP Tour title of the season.
Alexander Zverev, the 2017 Rome champion, also earned his way into the third round. The former World No. 2 clawed past 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to set a clash with American J.J. Wolf. Zverev is now 17-5 at the Masters 1000 event.
Frances Tiafoe and Lorenzo Musetti also had to wait an extra day to book their third-round spots in Rome. Tiafoe had been in a precarious position overnight against Daniel Altmaier, who led the American 6-3, 3-4 when rain forced the players off court on Saturday night. Tiafoe found his way to a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory upon resumption on Sunday, his second tour-level triumph of the season against Altmaier.
The 12th-seeded American will next take on home favourite Musetti after the 18th seed beat his fellow Italian Matteo Arnaldi 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round for the second time at his home Masters 1000 event.