Safiullin takes game to new level in upset win over Spain’s Alcaraz at Paris Masters

MOSCOW:  Russian tennis player Roman Safiullin says he had to "lift" his game to take down World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz on Tuesday n...


MOSCOW:  Russian tennis player Roman Safiullin says he had to "lift" his game to take down World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz on Tuesday night at the 2023 ATP (the Association of Tennis Professionals) Paris Masters Tournament.

The 26-year-old Russian, who is currently 45th in the ATP Rankings, stunned Spain’s Alcaraz with a 6-3; 6-4 straight sets win in the second round of the tennis tournament which kicked off in the French capital on Sunday.

"Since qualies, I was not playing at this level but against Carlos and these Top 10, Top 20 guys, you have to lift up the level. I managed to do it," the ATP’s official website quoted Safiullin as saying after the match against the Spaniard.

"For Carlos, it was not his best performance, but still I'm happy that I can win... Even if he's not in the best shape it's tough to beat him. So I'm really happy that I made it," Safiullin said.

Last month, Alcaraz, 20, pulled out of the ATP’s Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel due to an injury to his left foot and sore lower back.

Speaking about what it takes to defeat a top-flight player like Alcaraz, Safiullin said: "Everything against these guys [is important]."

"[It's key] to stay focused from the beginning to the end... Who can make it longer is going to be the winner," he added.

Commenting on Safiullin’s win, decorated Russian tennis coach Viktor Yanchuk told TASS that it was an unexpected but sensational victory.

"It was undoubtedly a pleasant surprise and a great sensation," Yanchuk said. "I did not expect Roman [Safiullin] to beat Alcaraz and I bet nobody else did either."

"It’s clear he is maturing as a player and can now play with anybody. I don’t think that he will always be able to defeat Alcaraz, but beating such a top-tier player means a lot," he added.

Russians play on the ATP tour as neutrals, including Safiullin, who is now set to square off in the 3rd round of the tournament in Paris against 16th-seeded compatriot Karen Khachanov.

The 2023 Paris Masters tournament is an ATP Masters 1,000 event and is being played on indoor hard courts at the Accor Arena in Paris between October 30 and November 5. The tournament offers 2.779 million euros (over $2.9 million) in prize money.

The tournament’s reigning champion is Holger Rune of Denmark. Notable Russians to win the tournament in Paris include Marat Safin (2000, 2002, 2004), Nikolai Davydenko (2006), Karen Khachanov (2018) and Daniil Medvedev (2020)

Russian players’ neutral status at tennis tournaments

On February 28, 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued recommendations to international sports federations to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in international tournaments, citing Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine as the reason.

Following the IOC’s recommendations in late February 2022, the majority of global sports federations decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from all international sports tournaments.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) ruled on March 1, 2022 to suspend the membership of the Russian and Belarusian national tennis federations while also cancelling all previously scheduled tennis tournaments in the two countries.

On March 14, 2022, the ITF also confirmed its prohibition on the Russian and Belarusian national tennis teams from taking part in the 2022 Davis Cup and 2022 Billie Jean King Cup.

However, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) allowed tennis players from Russia and Belarus to continue participating in WTA and ATP tournaments, but only under a neutral status.


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Local Glob: Safiullin takes game to new level in upset win over Spain’s Alcaraz at Paris Masters
Safiullin takes game to new level in upset win over Spain’s Alcaraz at Paris Masters
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