Alcaraz’s 12-match winning streak ends with loss to qualifier at 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

Carlos Alcaraz
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz reacts after losing his third round match of the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament to Hungary's Fabian Marozsan, at Foro Italico in Rome on May 15, 2023.TIZIANA FABI (AFP)

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.

“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.

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, German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann defeated 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 and 22nd-seeded Zheng Quinwen beat fellow Chinese player Wang Xiyu 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on the picturesque Pietrangeli court.

Later, two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek was facing Donna Vekic.

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