Carlos Alcaraz, who will rise to the ATP number one ranking on May 22, was shockingly ousted from Rome by world number 135 Fabian Marozsan of Hungary at the Italian Open.
Marozsan had to qualify for Rome but somehow broke the spell of Alcaraz magic with both power and finesse in his 6-3, 7-6 victory.
The early Round of 32 loss in Rome could end up a blessing in disguise. Alcaraz has won three clay court titles this season, including two on the current swing. In addition, deep runs in other tournaments add up to a grind, even for a guy who just turned 20. The Spanish sensation is likely in need of rest heading into Roland Garros.
Alcaraz didn’t look like he wanted rest, however. He battled gamely, particularly in the 2nd set during a battle royale that ended in a climatic tiebreaker. After seizing a mini-break, Alcaraz let Marozsan reel off six straight points. The signature point of the second set was a showstopper where Alcaraz covered every corner of the court with insane defense, only to bow out on a lowly backhand error.
How Marozsan Challenged Alcaraz
A fixture on the Challenger Tour, Marozsan had never made it into the main draw in Rome before this year, yet he carried himself with an air of belief throughout the match.
In the first set Marozsan used aggression, particularly on his serve. Rome is not known as a server’s paradise, but the Hungarian’s 314 serve rating and 89% of first serve points won handcuffed Alcaraz who only eked out a return rating of 55 in that set. Very unlike Alcaraz.
Also of note: Marozsan deployed the drop shot 12 times for the match. It was a classic taste of his own medicine for Alcaraz, who normally dominates that category. While Alcaraz hit 14 droppers of his own, what he did after was not as effective as it usually is. The Spaniard only won 7 of 16 at the net (44%), while Marozsan won 69%.
Since most players follow their drop shots by running to the net to cover the double dropper, net points can be a good indication of how effective that tactic was overall. In this case, great for Marozsan, not for Alcaraz.
Crucial Stat Category for Alcaraz vs Marozsan in Rome
The rally stats in this match are jaw dropping. Marozsan hammered Alcaraz in the category of shots zero to four by a crushing score of 52 to 40. Since the vast majority of points are played within this range– even on clay– that was the difference right there.
It portends a possible key for opponents scouting Alcaraz. Solve the puzzle by getting to him early.
Now Alcaraz will head home to relax and prep for Roland Garros, where he will be the number one seed. He will celebrate taking the ranking crown from Novak Djokovic, who falls to number two.
The tennis public and fans around the world will just have to wait for that mouth-watering matchup of Alcaraz vs. Djokovic. Not in Rome this year, friends.