© Martin Keep/Getty Images

Marco Trungelliti defeated Damir Dzumhur in Melbourne to reach the main draw at the Australian Open.

Trungelliti Continues Qualifying Streak In Melbourne

Argentine has qualified for his third consecutive Grand Slam and will meet Tiafoe in his ninth main draw

When Marco Trungelliti takes to the court, he lives life on the edge. The 31-year-old Argentine can never be written off, even when he finds himself in the deepest of holes, and least of all in a Grand Slam; just when it looks like his chances of winning a match in a Grand Slam qualifier are slipping away, ‘Trunge’ digs deep and relies on his instincts.

That special ‘adrenaline’ carried him through his final-round qualifier at the Australian Open in Melbourne against Damir Dzumhur. The Bosnian was leading 3-1 and had three break points in the final set; he served for the match at 5-4 and was just two points from victory when Trungelliti won a point with a diving volley at the net. It was not the first time he had done so, and it will not be the last.

Eventually, Trungelliti earned a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory to establish himself as a Grand Slam qualifying specialist. In what was his 30th qualification tournament for an event in the category, he achieved his goal for the ninth time (he has only qualified once as a lucky loser; Roland Garros in 2018).

“I’m always recovering from injuries. I don’t have many chances left, that’s why I always give 100 per cent in these tournaments,” explained the Argentine, who is still troubled by a stress fracture in one of his feet. “I give my best because that’s all I know... I push myself to the limit physically, but these tournaments motivate me. Maybe I don’t play the best tennis, but I feel like I deserve to be here at this level,” he tells ATPTour.com.

Trungelliti is not about to rest on his laurels, despite his strong record in qualifying rounds; three times in Melbourne (from 9 attempts), two at the US Open (from 6), three at Roland Garros (from 9) and one at Wimbledon (7). In fact, it’s the third consecutive Grand Slam where the current No. 198 in the ATP Ranking has come through the qualies and he now has a record of 39 wins from 61 matches in Grand Slam qualifying, having reached the final round fourteen times (Q3).

He has more than earned his nickname ‘Qualy-Man’, which they are calling him on social media: “I think it’s funny. I’m happy to have read it and that the expectations on my shoulders haven’t affected me, which isn’t easy... it shows maturity and I’m happy.”

You May Also Like: Day 1 Preview: Zverev Has Golden Feeling; Nadal Guns For 21

Is there one particular qualifying tournament that he remembers more fondly than the rest? “There is one that I didn’t get through, but it stayed with me. It was at Roland Garros in 2015. I lost in the third round, I was 7-5, 5-2 up and serving. But I folded and that hurt. It helped me approach them with a different mentality after that,” he says before underlining his philosophy by saying: “Grand Slam qualies are not about how well you play, they’re about how well you compete.”

With the peace of mind of being in the main draw in Melbourne, Trungelliti is more relaxed as he trains “to relax my body and relieve tension,” before he will take at least a couple of hours to study his first opponent, American Frances Tiafoe. “I always study my opponent, there are many things you can see in videos and discover beforehand. I try to use that to my advantage.”

However, the player born in Santiago del Estero, who until a few years ago made Andorra his home, admits that he was close to hanging up his racket recently. “I thought quite a lot about stopping, but I continued because of my energy, momentum and because I didn’t know how to start from zero,” he admits with a smile. “Now I’m enjoying it more, I choose the tournaments I go to, or I stay in Italy playing and drinking coffee.”

Such is his passion for coffee, that Trungelliti tends to travel around the world with his coffee machine. “I didn’t bring it here, but I always take it. I’ve liked it since I was young, it’s like a ritual for me. I like espresso without sugar, the way it should be,” he explains, concluding: “My favourite is the one from Italy and our one.”

When he says ‘our one’, it is because together with his wife Nadir, Trungelliti opened his own café in Andorra called ‘0% Gluten’, where they serve speciality coffees and gluten-free food. “It’s hard work but really wonderful too when the products are fresh and you’re involved in the details of the machine, the temperature of the water. The more coffee you drink, the more you can tell if it’s good.”

Following his qualification in Melbourne, Trungelliti is gaining momentum and he has no plans to stop just yet. “Now I feel younger than 10 years ago, that’s why I’m still investigating the mysteries of tennis and of life,” he closes, with a mischievous smile that says he is unlikely to change any time soon.