Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made their entrances at Roland Garros yesterday 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, 1,000km 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 €79,000 — almost treble what he had earned over the rest of the year.
“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.
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.
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.
The Swiss star, beset by knee problems for two years and seeded a lowly 23rd, needed lengthy treatment during the first set and appeared unlikely to be able to play on.
But not only did Wawrinka continue, he went on to take 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 tournament, second seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised into round two of the French Open 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’m just out here trying to enjoy every match and every moment of it.”
There was a high-profile casualty, though. Former world number one Victoria Azarenka, a 2013 semi-finalist, lost 7-5 7-5 to 22-year-old Czech Katerina Siniakova.
Maria Sharapova’s belated return to the tournament was delayed by the weather as her first-round clash with Richel Hogenkamp was held back until today. 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. Twelve months later Sharapova is back in the world’s top 30 and seeded 28.
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