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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, May 12, 2024
The Rome press room isn’t a confessional, but that didn’t deter Daniil Medvedev from sharing self truth.

Medvedev’s sometime dysfunctional relationship with red clay is rooted in a fundamental fact: he detests dirt.

More: Hurkacz Hammers Nadal 

Clay beats up his body, muffles his jolting first serve, wrecks recovery steps into slippery slides, stains his socks and sometimes scars his psyche.

“When someone asks me what’s the thing you hate about clay, for me it's dirty,” Medvedev told the media in Rome. “I don't like.

"Locker rooms are dirty. When you come, you clap the shoes to get out the clay. It's dirty.

“Socks, you can throw away after clay season, for sure. In your car after practice, it's dirty. So I don't like it. It is what it is. Now I enjoy it more and more.”

One reason for the change of heart was his inspired run to the 2023 Rome title.

Arriving in the Eternal City winless in three prior Rome appearances, Medvedev scored six straight wins to capture his maiden clay crown at the 2023 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The fourth-ranked Medvedev opened his title defense with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Briton Jack Draper.

Now Medvedev is aiming to snap a strange streak and defend an ATP title for the first time.

All 20 of Medvedev’s titles have come in 20 different cities.

Can the 2021 US Open champion crack the code of title defense and do it in the Eternal City?

Scanning a Rome draw devoid of 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, world No. 2 Jannik Sinner, two-time Madrid champion Carlos Alcaraz, and Roland Garros runner-up Casper Ruud, Medvedev says now is his time to defend.

“It's very strange. I would think it's like coincidence, unlucky thing,” Medvedev said of his inability to defend a title. “I don't care which tournament I play, I want to win. Doesn't matter whether I win it before or not.

"Every tournament I play, I want to win. I really hope that one time in my career I can win somewhere I win before. Now is the chance here to do it, and I will try.”

Next up for Medvedev is 121st-ranked Hamad Medjedovic.

Photo credit: Getty