World no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz will likely lose his year-end no. 1 crown to Novak Djokovic! The young Spaniard experienced an early Paris Masters loss, falling to a qualifier Roman Safiullin 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 37 minutes, notching his worst result of the year.
The Spaniard missed Basel after a couple of injuries, working hard on his comeback but playing miles below his best against a determined opponent. Roman came from a break down in both sets, playing composed tennis and delivering his career-best victory after numerous injuries and setbacks in the early stages of his career.
The Russian played better behind the second serve, losing serve two times and responding with four breaks on his tally, enough to seal the deal in straight sets. Safiullin had a slim advantage in the shortest and more advanced exchanges, spraying fewer errors and outplaying world no.
2 from the baseline. The lower-ranked player netted a backhand in the encounter's third game, suffering a break and falling 2-1 behind.
Roman Safiullin ousted Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets in Paris.
Instead of building on that, Alcaraz got broken in the fourth game, returning his rival to the positive side.
They served well in the next three games, and Carlos broke that streak at 3-4. The Spaniard sprayed a backhand error to drop serve and fall 5-3 behind, allowing the Russian to serve for the opener. Roman kept his focus and painted a backhand down the line winner to wrap up the first set 6-3 in 37 minutes, gaining a boost ahead of set number two.
Carlos created two break chances in the second set's second game and squandered them, failing to move in front. World no. 2 changed that the next time, delivering a break in the fourth game with a return down the line winner and forging a 3-1 advantage.
Safiullin broke back a few minutes later with a forehand winner at the net, erasing the deficit as in the opener. The Russian pushed strong on the return in the seventh game, creating four break points. The Spaniard played a loose forehand on the last, finding himself 4-3 behind and closer to the exit door.
Carlos held at 30 while serving to stay in the match in game nine, with Roman serving for the victory in the next one. The Russian landed a service winner after deuce to celebrate a career-best victory and send world no. 2 packing.