Carlo Alcaraz’s 12-match winning streak came to an unexpected end when he was beaten by 135th-ranked Hungarian qualifier Fabian Marozsan 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Monday in the third round of the Italian Open.
Alcaraz had won consecutive clay-court titles in Barcelona and Madrid and secured a return to the No. 1 ranking by winning the opening match of his Rome debut. But the 20-year-old Spaniard appeared surprised by how Marozsan dictated with spectacular play all over the court, including a series of drop shots that Alcaraz had no answer for.
“It was my dream last night. And now it’s true” Marozsan said. “I just try to do something special or winning a few games or maybe a set or something like this, and I just beat the world No. 1 — he’s our best in the sport.”
The result means that Alcaraz will go into the French Open — which starts in less than two weeks and where he will be the top seed — coming off a dispiriting defeat.
It was only the second loss on clay for Alcaraz this year after getting beaten by Cameron Norrie in the Rio de Janeiro final in February.
Making matters even more surprising was that this is the first time Marozsan is playing in the main draw of an ATP tournament — and the match took place before a full stadium on Campo Centrale.
“Everything was perfect today: the crowd, the weather, the court,” Marozsan said.
Alcaraz established a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker but then Marozsan won six straight points to close it out.
“It’s amazing. I don’t know what happened during the points,” Marozsan said. “I just try to hit back every ball and try to do my best.”
Late in the second set, Alcaraz started yelling “Vamos” every time he won a significant point. But Marozsan just kept coming, unleashing an 82 mph (132 kph) backhand winner up the line to conclude one point and winning several close exchanges at the net.
By the end, Marozan had compiled twice as many winners as Alcaraz, 24 to 12, and far fewer unforced errors, 13 to 24.
“I couldn’t follow his level,” Alcaraz said. “He was at the same level the whole match. That is very, very difficult. He deserves the win. If he plays at that level, he’s going to surprise more than one (player).”
Marozsan will next face Borna Coric, who continued his solid form on clay by beating Roberto Carballes Baena 7-6 (3), 6-1. At the Madrid Open last week, Coric reached the semifinals before losing to Alcaraz.
Also, Monte Carlo Masters champion Andrey Rublev defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6 (8), 6-3 and will next play German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann, who beat former French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Daniil Medvedev, who had never won a match in three previous appearances at the Foro Italico, advanced by rallying past Bernabe Zapata Miralles 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
“I’m playing my best tennis on clay now,” Medvedev said.
In women’s action, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina beat 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals and will next face two-time defending Rome champion Iga Swiatek or Donna Vekic, who played late.
Also, Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine rallied past 2016 runner-up Madison Keys 2-6, 6-2, 6-4; and other winners included Veronika Kudermetova, Zheng Quinwen and Beatriz Haddad Maia.
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