World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz is out of the Paris Masters after losing at the first hurdle to Roman Safiullin.
The Spaniard looked to end his year on the regular tour with a win in the French capital but was undone by world number 45 Safiullin. The Russian, who survived qualifying, scored the best win of his career, 6-3, 6-4 in less than two hours.
Footage of Alcaraz circling Novak Djokovic in training has gone viral in recent days, but the final Masters event of the season will not see the two heavyweights meet on the main circuit.
A routine evening for Alcaraz began to emerge when he broke Safiullin in the third game, but he was immediately broken back and his opponent then took control, breaking again at 4-3 and then serving out the first set.
Alcaraz made another early move in the second set to lead 3-1, but Safiullin responded again, winning five of the next six games, causing a major shock on the Seine.
“It was tough, I haven’t played at this level since qualifying, but against Carlos you have to raise the level,” said Safiullin. “Carlos wasn’t his best performance but I’m still happy I was able to win because he’s world number two, former world number one and has won two Grand Slams. It’s hard to beat him even when he’s not at his best.”