Carlos Alcaraz once looked unbeatable. He was learning his way but better than seemingly many of the best ever at just 20 years old. He cramped up against Novak Djokovic at the French Open, but he came back and defeated Djokovic at Wimbledon. Carlos Alcaraz has already won two Grand Slams, but he just seems off over the last few months.
Since winning Wimbledon, Alcaraz has reached just one tournament final and that was the Western and Southern Open in early August. He lost that final to Djokovic. He reached the semifinals at the China Open but then lost in the round of 16 at the Shanghai Masters and now he has lost in the second round of the Rolex Paris Masters.
On Tuesday, Carlos Alcaraz lost in straight sets to Roman Safiullin. Was it the best-played match of Safiullin’s career? Maybe. He won 6-3 6-4 even after being broken early in each set. Each time, Safiullin bounced back to break Alcaraz right back.
Carlos Alcaraz bounced in the second round of the Rolex Paris Masters
The issue wasn’t that Safiullin was playing so well – mind you, he clearly wasn’t playing badly – but that Alcaraz was hitting far too many unforced errors. Carlos Alcaraz just couldn’t seem to find a rhythm. Sure, he was a little rusty after missing a few weeks due to an injury, but that isn’t that long to be away from the game.
Plus, he looked basically the same way he has for months now. He isn’t dominating anyone the way he was earlier in 2023, often going to three sets even in the matches he wins. But against Safiullin at the Paris Masters, he didn’t even look like a top-10 player. He wasn’t overpowered, Safiullin didn’t do anything magical; The Russian simply wiped away the Spaniard as if Carlos Alcaraz was ranked No. 114.
Alcaraz was hoping to win the Rolex Paris Masters to set up an ATP Finals where he could battle Djokovic for year-end No. 1. That seems like a dream now and the way Carlos Alcaraz is playing he will be lucky to win a match in the year-end tournament. Shocking, really, and seemingly no easy fix for Alcaraz.