If Carlos Alcaraz didn’t know much about Fabian Marozsan before Monday, he does now.
The World No. 2’s 12-match winning streak was snapped by the No. 135-ranked qualifier at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where Marozsan produced a barrage of clean hitting to register a major shock in the third-round clash. A philosophical Alcaraz admitted he had expected a high level from the 23-year-old Hungarian, but perhaps not quite so high.
“I didn’t watch too much of him before the match,” said Alcaraz in his post-match press conference. “I just followed a lot of [his] results in the Challengers and stuff. He did well. He was doing well before here.
“Of course, he surprised me a lot. I mean, his level was really, really high. I’m sure he’s going to break the Top 100 very, very soon. It was surprising for me.”
While every player has an off day, Alcaraz believes that it was the quality of Marozsan’s game that proved decisive at the Foro Italico, rather than any major issues with his own display.
“I was perfect physically. I just didn’t feel comfortable,” said the Spaniard. “He made me feel uncomfortable on court. I mean, 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 rallies. I made a lot of mistakes that I usually don’t make [often].
“Obviously these days can happen in tennis, and you have to handle it. In the second set I was close, I had my chances, but I didn’t take the chances. He was at the same level all the time.”
Despite the disappointment of his Rome debut ending in third-round defeat, Alcaraz will use the extra time off to begin his preparations for Roland Garros. He may have racked up a 20-2 record on clay for the season so far, but the 20-year-old knows he needs to be at his best physically if he is going to compete for the title across five-set matches at the clay-court Grand Slam in Paris.
“I’m going to rest little bit, some days off for me,” said Alcaraz, who won back-to-back titles in Barcelona and Madrid prior to coming to Rome. “I really need some days to reset my mind a little bit, to be fresh for Roland Garros.
“Of course, to practise [is not a] secret. You have to practise. If you want to do a good result in Paris, if I want to go to Paris in a good shape, I have to practise, to be better. I couldn’t practise more than three, four days in a row. I’ve been playing so much.
“It’s going to be really helpful for me to have days at home practising and getting ready for Roland Garros.”
Although he has competed twice before at Roland Garros (he reached the quarter-finals last year) and knows what it takes to go all the way at a major after his 2022 US Open triumph, Alcaraz is already guaranteed a new experience for this year’s trip to Paris. He will play as the top seed at a Grand Slam for the first time in the French capital because he is guaranteed to replace Novak Djokovic as No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on 22 May.
“It’s great to be No. 1 seed in a Grand Slam, in Paris,” said Alcaraz, when asked about the pressure of headlining a major draw. “That’s a tournament [where] I really want to have a good result.
“I try not to think about it. For me it’s the same to be No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. Probably the draw is the same [with those rankings]. It’s great, but at the same time it’s not really [more] helpful for me.”