Daniil Medvedev has surprised himself and he has done that by winning a big championship on red clay. It is the surface he has often said is his least favourite and the polar opposite to hardcourt where he normally excels.
Medvedev, who moves back to be ranked No.2, defeated Holger Rune 7-5, 7-5 (his last two matches has the same scoreline) in one hour 42 minutes to win the Internazionale BNL d'Italia. It was his fourth appearance at the tournament in Rome which is set in some wonderful grounds surrounded by huge white statues at the Foro Italico, a sporting precinct built originally in the 1930's.
"In a way this ranks number one just because it's the first one on clay and it's unbelievable," Medvedev said. "I would never thought I would be able to make this. Then have to be honest, Grand Slam is always bigger. Yeah, US Open is always number one there.
"This one is special because I didn't think it was going to be able to happen, I'm 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."
But while these majestic statues look down on the red clay courts, Daniil Medvedev, who had never won a match here before this year, was anything but a stature. The 27-year-old was so solid mentally through the whole tournament. He had said when he arrived in Rome and started practicing, he had a feeling that he was paying very well and maybe, just maybe, it could turn into a good two weeks.
He was so very right.
"I don't think I love the clay, I love hardcourts, my only love, in tennis eh, but there is a friendship," Medvedev said with a smile, "but I definitely like clay courts much more now.
"I told my coach I don't know what's happening but I feel amazing but let's see how it goes, but then you have to play the toughest opponents in the world to try to make it and I am really happy that I managed to do it and prove to myself and everybody that I am capable of doing it."
Rune said he was very nervous stepping onto the court and that he could have put too many expectations on himself. He said that Medvedev played great and was oh so solid from the back of the court in the slow conditions which had been exacerbated by frequent rain throughout the two weeks.
This was a big result for Medvedev with it being his first clay title. Winning in Rome was his fifth title of the year (second at a Masters 1000 from three finals) from a tour best six finals and it is his 20th career title in his 20th different tournament. By winning, the Russian has become the sixth player with six or more different Masters 1000 title since 1990; he joins Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal.
Rune at 20 years 22 days is the youngest man to reach the Rome final since Rafa Nadal, who was 19, when he won it in 2006 and he was appearing in his third Masters 1000 final from his last six such events, having won Paris Bercy and was runner-up in Monte Carlos.
"My feeling right now is obviously not the best," Rune said. "Also, I have to look at it's been a good clay season so far for me. I made three finals out of four tournaments. In that way I can't complain, (but) I'm a very eager person to win titles. I've been close to. Hopefully I will learn from it.
"But yeah, I mean, Paris is the main goal of the clay season. I think I had the matches that I needed to be as well-prepared as possible. Now it is the last small things I want to do better the next time I stay in these big matches."
Thee doubles title was won by Hugo Nys and Jan Zelinski over the Dutch pairing of Robin Haase and Botic van de Zandschulp 7-5, 6-1.