Marco Trungelliti upstages big names after 10-hour dash to French Open
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both got underway at Roland Garros on Monday
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic ackowledges the fans after victory over Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva during their men’s singles first round match on day two of the Roland Garros 2018 French Open. Photo: Thomas Samson/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made their entrances at Roland Garros on Monday but both found themselves upstaged by a lucky loser and his 88-year-old grandmother.
Argentinian Marco Trungelliti, beaten in French Open qualifying last week, was back home in Barcelona on Sunday when, after a spate of withdrawals, he got the call to replace injured Nick Kyrgios.
The 28-year-old had his family — mother Suzanna, brother Andre and grandmother Daphne — staying with him, and within five minutes Trungelliti had packed them all into his car to embark on a 10-hour, 1,000-kilometre drive in order to be in Paris in time to sign in.
It was worth the trip as well, as Trungelliti, ranked 190 in the world, went on to beat former top-20 star Bernard Tomic to net a cool €69,000 — almost treble what he had earned over the rest of the year.
He explained: “We were at home with my family, actually, my brother and my grandma and my mum came a week ago. Supposedly they were going to come here but then I lost, so I left.
“Then my coach told me, ask if you are going to get in or whatever. So I ask, and then somebody told me that it was the first alternate.
“So actually, my grandma was in the shower and I told her, OK, we go to Paris!
“There are many flights cancelled, and then there is no train now in France so the best option was just to take the car.”
Trungelliti, who arrived in Paris just before midnight, was on court for an 11am start after just a quick warm-up and ran out a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4 winner — not that Daphne was keeping score.
“She has no idea what tennis is, really,” he added. “She has no idea how to count it. And actually, she told me that she didn’t know that it was the end of the match until everybody was clapping.”
Nadal, looking for an 11th title on the famous clay, was two sets to the good but a break down in the third to Italian Simone Bolelli, himself a lucky loser, when the rain brought the players off.
Djokovic, the champion in 2016, eased through after a straight-sets win over Rogerio Dutra Silva.
The Serbian, coming back from an injury absence which has seen him dip out of the world’s top 20 for the first time since he was a teenager, dropped his serve in the opening game of the match.
But it proved a false alarm as the 12-time grand slam winner brushed aside his Brazilian opponent 6-3 6-4 6-4.
Another former Paris winner, Stan Wawrinka, bowed out after a three-and-a-half-hour marathon against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Warinka took a 2-1 lead only to lose a five-setter 2-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3.
In the women’s draw, second seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised into round two with a straight-sets win over Danielle Collins.
The Australian Open champion brushed aside her American opponent 7-6 (7/2) 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Having entered a grand slam for the first time since she won one, the Dane said: “It feels great. A little bit less pressure.
“I kind of feel like I have one grand slam now, so no matter what happens, no-one can take that away from me.
“I’m just out here trying to enjoy every match and every moment of it.”
Eighth seed Petra Kvitova looked to be in trouble when she dropped the first set against Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg.
But the two-time Wimbledon champion hauled herself level and then edged a nervous final set to win a two-hour marathon 3-6 6-1 7-5.
“It was pretty tough,” the Czech said. “I relaxed in the second and tried to focus on every point. It was the same in the third but I managed to get the break.”
There was a high-profile casualty, though. Former world number one Victoria Azarenka, the 2013 semi-finalist, lost 7-5 7-5 to 22-year-old Czech Katerina Siniakova.
Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, seeded 20th, also failed to make it through round one as she tumbled out 4-6 6-1 6-3 to Colombian qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino.
Maria Sharapova’s belated return to the tournament was delayed by the weather.
Last year the two-time champion in Paris had recently returned from a 15-month doping ban, but had not built her ranking high enough to qualify and was not offered a wild card.
But 12 months later Sharapova is back in the world’s top 30 and seeded 28. However, her first-round clash with Richel Hogenkamp of Holland was held back until Tuesday with light rain falling and the light failing.