ROME — Carlos 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) 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.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable. He made me to feel uncomfortable on court,” Alcaraz said. “He was aggressive all the time. He was playing inside the baseline all the time. It was tough for me to get into the match, into the rally. I made a lot of mistakes that I usually don’t make too much.”
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.
“He surprise(d) me a lot. His level was really, really high,” Alcaraz said. “I’m sure he’s going to break the top 100 very, very soon.”
The match took place before a packed stadium on Campo Centrale.
“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.
“Everything was perfect today: the crowd, the weather, the court,” Marozsan said.
Alcaraz established a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Marozsan then 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 backhand winner up the line to conclude one point and winning several close exchanges at the net.
By the end, Marozsan had compiled twice as many winners as Alcaraz, 24 to 12, and far fewer unforced errors, 13 to 24.
“I didn’t play really, really well obviously,” Alcaraz said. “I couldn’t follow his level. 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.
In women’s action, Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine rallied past 2016 runner-up Madison Keys 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals; Veronika Kudermetova beat Marie Bouzkova 6-2, 6-2; Zheng Qinwen defeated fellow Chinese player Wang Xiyu 6-4, 3-6, 6-1; and Beatriz Haddad Maia eliminated Colombian qualifier Camila Osorio 6-3, 6-3.
Later, two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek was facing Donna Vekic.