Carlos Alcaraz has been knocked out of Rome in the round of 32 after losing to World No.135 qualifier Fabian Marozsan in straight sets. Soon-to-be World No.1 Alcaraz was playing the Italian Open for the first time in his young career having just won and defended both the Barcelona and Madrid Open.
There has been concerns over fatigue for the 20-year-old heading into the French Open after a heavy tennis schedule having come back from a few months out when he missed the Australian Open. Yet the Spaniard appeared ready for a third straight title in a potential showdown with Novak Djokovic looming.
However, the showdown with Djokovic will have to wait after Marozsan played the game of his life to defeat Alcaraz 6-3, 7-6 and end any hope of a maiden title in Rome for the Spaniard. Marozsan came out and played an aggressive game, which never let Alcaraz settle.
Often at home on the clay courts, Alcaraz was constantly looking for his rhythm but never found it against the youngster. Marozsan becomes just the seventh player ranked outside the top 100 to defeat a top two player since 2015.
After the match, Marozsan was shellshocked at his achievement. "It's not easy to say something. I am very, very happy," he said during his on-court interview.
"I can't imagine this one...I spoke about this match and I told you I just try to do something special or win a few games, or a set. And I just beat the World No.1."
Fans were left equally as shocked as Marozsan. There have been very few upsets of this scale in recent history against an in-form top 2 player. Tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg went as far as to claim Alcaraz's loss, due to his formidable form, was potentially the 'biggest upset of the century'.
Fans will now question whether Alcaraz will head into the French Open as favourite, or whether the pressure of going in as World No.1 and seeking his maiden Paris title could be his undoing.
Truly one of the most shocking results of the decade, if not the century. pic.twitter.com/CXKZGLrClk
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 15, 2023
Based on odds, one of the top 8 upsets in men's tennis since 2009 https://t.co/OaYSSDlfqn
— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) May 15, 2023
Wow. The first bad match I have seen from Alcaraz this year. Maybe this was needed ahead of the French Open. The tour will look at this match and try to copy the same strategy. Is it a blip or were weaknesses exposed that will foreshadow many more losses to come? I think it was a…
— Kevin Jordan (@kevin_jordan__) May 15, 2023
Shock is an understatement 😳
— kwazee Ncube🇿🇦 (@kwazeencubey) May 15, 2023
Jim Courier dissects Carlos Alcaraz loss in Rome
Following the match, tennis greats Andy Roddick and Jim Courier dissected the tactics of Marozsan having been the first rival to thoroughly outplay the Spaniard in 2023. Roddick noted Marozsan constantly served outwide against Alcaraz to open up the court.
Courier added this allowed him to play his drop shots, which he used 18 times across two sets. The Hungaran won 15 of those points when using the drop shot.
"He likes to be in control and I think that's what the Hungarian did so well today, he eliminated that option. He took the racquet away from Alcaraz," Courier said on the Tennis Channel.
While it is too early to decide if this is a blueprint against the omnipresent Spaniard on court, rivals will take note of the World No.165's tactics heading into Roland Garros.
Following the match Alcaraz was all class as he praised his opponent without offering up any excuses for the shock defeat. "Congratulations Fabian," he wrote. "A great match and a deserved win. I tried to fight until the end, but it wasn't possible. Now it is time to rest and focus on Roland Garros."
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