Best Of 2023
Best ATP Tour Upsets Of 2023: Maroszan, Pecotic Produce Stunners
Lajovic, Nardi, Diallo also feature
Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Lajovic, Nardi, Diallo also feature
By ATP Staff
The Pepperstone ATP Rankings provide a perfect way to measure the size of upsets in the men’s game. For many of the matches selected here, the shocks were off the charts.
As we continue our look back at the 2023 season, ATPTour.com counts down the five most seismic upsets of the year. On Tuesday we’ll look at the biggest upsets at the Grand Slams.
5) Toronto R1: Diallo d. Evans 7-6(4), 7-5
Canada’s Gabriel Diallo, then 21, roared to his first ATP Tour win on home soil by beating one of the game’s most in-form players.
Two days prior, Daniel Evans lifted the Washington title behind a run of 10 consecutive sets won. But in Toronto, he had his hands full just to keep Diallo from running away with the match.
After the Canadian claimed a tight opening set, he led by a break on three separate occasions in the second. A double fault ended his first attempt to serve out the match, but despite seeing Evans level at 5-5 from 3-5 down, Diallo regrouped to win the next two games.
“Words cannot really describe how I feel right now,” the then-World No. 141 said after the dramatic two-hour victory. “I hope that everyone in this planet can feel what I’m feeling right now, this level of happiness.”
Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
4) Madrid R2: Arnaldi d. Ruud 6-3, 6-4
Next Gen alum Matteo Arnaldi picked up his first Top 10 win the hard way by beating then-World No. 4 Casper Ruud on the Norwegian’s favourite surface. After saving a match point to earn his first ATP Masters 1000 win against Benoit Paire in the Madrid opening round, the qualifier swung freely to produce what was a landmark win in multiple ways.
In addition to being his best career win by measure of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the result also lifted the Italian into the Top 100 for the first time. He continued to soar up the rankings in the following months, finishing the year at World No. 44.
Perhaps the most surprising part of Arnaldi’s Madrid upset? After a strong run on the Barcelona clay the week before, he was not feeling comfortable in the altitude of the Spanish capital.
“The ball bounces so high and I didn’t like it at first. I struggled a bit,” he explained. “But today, I don’t know, maybe the stadium, maybe the pressure on him, but I played the best match of my life.”
3) Banja Luka QF: Lajovic d. Djokovic 6-4, 7-6(6)
This all-Serbian battle, played out in front of a “home” crowd in neighbouring Bosina and Herzegovina, proved to be a milestone moment for the then-32-year-old Dusan Lajovic. After winning just four combined games in two previous meetings against Novak Djokovic, Lajovic stunned his countryman at the clay-court ATP 250.
Lajovic fought off 15 of 16 break points against him and saved three set points in the second set tie-break, ultimately clinching victory by winning the final five points of the match from 3/6 in the tie-break. His aggressive play made Djokovic pay for a poor serving day, and he repeatedly found his best tennis in the clutch moments against a man who has built a legendary career by doing exactly that.
“I’m overwhelmed, it is the biggest win of my career,” Lajovic said after earning his first win against a World No. 1. “The emotions are very mixed because I’m playing here in front of the home town and I’m also playing against Nole who is a good friend and he’s a hero of our country. Beating him, it’s something that I didn’t even think is going to be possible, but it happened.”
Lajovic made the most of his victory by going on to win the title in Banja Luka, beating Miomir Kecmanovic in an all-Serbian semi-final and second seed Andrey Rublev in the final.
2) Delray Beach R1: Pecotic d. Sock 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
Matija Pecotic was already one of the most intriguing stories of the season before he met the former No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The 33-year-old Croatian, who holds a full-time job in finance, qualified for his ATP Tour debut at his local tournament in South Florida. But it seemed likely his dream run would end against home favourite Jack Sock.
Instead, with his boss in the stands, the then-World No. 784 made even more headlines by recovering from a slow start to decisively beat the American in the final two sets. He hit 30 winners, including 10 aces, to knock off Sock, turning the match around after starting in a 0-4 hole and later fighting off a break point to start the second set.
“I certainly didn’t expect to win, but certainly didn’t come into the match thinking that I’m definitely going to lose,” said Pecotic, who represented Croatia at the inaugural United Cup earlier in the season. “I certainly figured if I could sink my teeth into the match and work on the two or three patterns that I prepared before, that I’m going to have a chance. And then let’s see… if I was going to fall under pressure or not be able to serve it out at some point. But I didn’t and I got the win.”
1) Rome R3: Marozsan d. Alcaraz 6-3, 7-6(4)
Fabian Marozsan produced the biggest shock of the season with an authoritative victory against Carlos Alcaraz. Playing in his first ATP Tour main draw, the flat-hitting Hungarian qualifier played with supreme quality to hand his opponent his third defeat of the season.
Marozsan succeeded by beating Alcaraz at his own game, mixing deep and powerful ground strokes with well-timed drop shots to keep the Spaniard guessing. Just when Alcaraz seemed to find an answer, building a 4/1 lead in the second-set tie-break, Maroszan reclaimed the initiative with his bruising ground game to win the final six points of the match.
“I couldn’t imagine this. It was my dream last night,” said Maroszan, who hit 30 winners to Alcaraz’s 15. “Now it’s true, I am very, very happy about this… I just tried to do something special, maybe winning a few games or a set or something like this, and now I just beat the [World No. 2].”
Then the World No. 135, the Hungarian became the first player outside the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to beat Alcaraz since 2021, and the eighth player outside the Top 100 to defeat an opponent ranked World No. 1 or No. 2 since 2015.
Later in the season, he earned more ATP Masters 1000 success by reaching the Shanghai quarter-finals, beating Alex de Minaur and Casper Ruud along the way. By the end of October, he hit a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of World No. 61.
Read all stories in our Best Of 2023 review.