Roman Safiullin stuns Carlos Alcaraz at Rolex Paris Masters

League: Tennis

Posted on: 31 Oct, 2023 at 11:08 PM

Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin upset Spain's Carlos Alcaraz, the No. 2 player in the world, 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday in the Round of 32 at the Rolex Paris Masters in France.

Alcaraz, seeded second, had not lost an opening match in 2023, a run of nine tournaments going back to 2022. He had not played since losing to Grigor Dimitrov 20 days earlier in the Shanghai round of 16, as issues with his left foot and lower back caused him to withdraw from the Basel tournament.

He had a bye in the first round.

Safiullin, ranked No. 45 in the world, had career highlights this year with his first run to a major quarterfinal at Wimbledon and his first ATP Tour final at Chengdu.

"Since qualies, I was not playing at this level but against Carlos and these top-10, top-20 guys, you have to lift up the level," Safiullin said after the match. "I managed to do it.

"For Carlos, it was not his best performance, but still, I'm happy that I can win. ... Even if he's not in the best shape, it's tough to beat him. So I'm really happy that I made it."

Safiullin converted four of eight break points -- two in each set -- to two of four for Alcaraz. Safiullin also won 10 of 12 points from the net.

With beating Alcaraz in their first meeting, Safiullin is now 3-6 versus top-10 players. He has reached the third round of four of the past five ATP Masters 1000 events.

"Everything against these guys (is important)," Safiullin said. "Tactical, physical, the mental part is very important. (It's key) to stay focused from the beginning to the end. ... Who can make it longer is going to be the winner."

In another match Tuesday in the round of 32, Germany's Daniel Altmaier won by walkover over ninth-seeded Taylor Fritz of the United States. Fritz aggravated an abdomen injury on Monday during a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Argentina's Sebastian Baez.

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia took down Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-3. Rublev hit 12 aces and had a 38-12 advantage in total winners.

Karen Khachanov, the 16th seed from Russia, knocked off Serbia's Laslo Djere 6-4, 7-5; Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands defeated Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-2; and Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik outlasted Chile's Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3).

Winners from the round of 64 included 10th seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, 11th seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, Mackenzie McDonald of the United State and lucky loser Dusan Lajovic of Serbia. Lajovic ousted wild card Benjamin Bonzi of France.

--Field Level Media