Carlos Alcaraz suffered a shock loss to lowly-ranked Hungarian Fabian Marozsan in the third round of the Italian Open in Rome.
Alcaraz will take over from Novak Djokovic as world number one next Monday but his French Open preparations suffered a blow with a 6-3 7-6 (4) loss to 135th-ranked Marozsan.
The 23-year-old had never played in the main draw of an ATP event or beaten a top-100 player prior to arriving in the Italian capital but, having come through qualifying, he now finds himself in the last 16 of one of the biggest tournaments outside the grand slams.
“He made me feel uncomfortable on court,” Alcaraz said at his post-match press conference. “He was aggressive all the time.
“It was tough for me to get into the match, into the rally. I made a lot of mistakes that I usually don’t make.
“Obviously these days can happen in tennis and you have to handle it. He surprised me a lot. His level was really, really high.
“If he plays at that level, he’s going to surprise more than one. I’m sure he’s going to break the top 100 very, very soon.”
Marozsan stunned Alcaraz in the first set with the pace of his forehand, while he played the Spaniard at his own game with frequent drop shots.
The second seed, who was on a 12-match winning streak after claiming titles in Barcelona and Madrid, fought hard in the second to try to turn the match around.
He led 4-1 in the tie-break but Marozsan, who will face Croatian 15th seed Borna Coric in the next round, was not to be denied, reeling off six points in a row to clinch the victory of his life and one of the biggest shocks of the season.
Speaking on Amazon Prime Video, he said: “I’m very, very happy. I couldn’t imagine this. It was my dream last night. I just beat the world number one, he’s the best in our sport. Everything was perfect today.”