© Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

After driving from Barcelona to claim his lucky loser spot, Marco Trungelliti advances to the third round at Roland Garros for the third consecutive year.

With Racquets & Grandma In Hand, Trungelliti Is Luckiest Loser Of Them All

The Argentine lucky loser advances to Roland Garros second round following wild journey from Barcelona to Paris

Marco Trungelliti lost in the final round of Roland Garros qualifying last Thursday against #NextGenATP Pole Hubert Hurkacz. After reaching the second round of the main draw in Paris for two consecutive years, it was an early trip back to Barcelona, where the Argentine resides. After airport delays, the 28-year-old arrived in Spain in the early hours of Saturday morning. His family made a barbecue later that day, and they rented a car to head to the beach on Sunday.

So much for those plans.

After Mohamed Safwat stepped in to face Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday as a lucky loser, the only player ahead of Trungelliti on the lucky loser list was Prajnesh Gunneswaran. But the Indian was already in the draw of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Vicenza, Italy. So when Nick Kyrgios withdrew on Sunday (elbow) and no other lucky losers were present, it was the Argentine’s spot for the taking.

Trungelliti, his brother, mother and 88-year-old grandmother hopped in the car that was meant for a trip to the beach and began what would become a 10-hour journey back to Paris. “There was no reason to be stressed,” Trungelliti said.

It was just a family driving in a car listening to quiet folk music.

“To be an alternate and then be the lucky loser is not something that happens very often. I could very well have come and there had been no retirement and I wouldn't have played,” Trungelliti said. “But these tournaments deserve you to be ready.”

Just about 25 hours after Trungelliti first realised the opportunity at hand, the World No. 190 defeated Australian Bernard Tomic in four sets to advance to the second round at Roland Garros for the third consecutive year.

Barely a day earlier, his grandmother Daphne, whom he calls ‘Abuelita’, was in the shower, preparing for a day at the beach. Trungelliti did not hesitate to make the decision and shout to her — “We’re going to drive to Paris!”

“Five minutes. It wasn't that long,” said Trungelliti of how long it took to make his decision to drive back to France. “We needed Grandma, for sure, always.... Just [needed] to have half an hour to make the luggage, the baggage, and then we left.”

Trungelliti drank plenty of coffee before they left, and they stopped every two hours to get more. The right-hander even drove for a couple hours himself, while his brother handled the rest of the ride.

“The trip was okay. We didn't really have to stop,” Trungelliti said.

Why didn’t they just board a plane? The Argentine was nervous that there would be cancellations, which might have ruined his chances of getting to Paris by Monday morning, when he needed to sign the lucky loser sheet. The family arrived just after 11 p.m. on Sunday evening. Trungelliti got five hours of sleep, ‘maximum’, and the rest is history.

“I didn’t feel pressure at all,” Trungelliti said of his match against Tomic.

But apparently ‘Abuelita’, who never watches Trungelliti play, did. The Argentine's grandmother appeared nervous during his victory. She told him that she didn’t know the match was over until the entire packed crowd was clapping.

“I hope she's okay,” Trungelliti said. “I wouldn't want her to die of stress.”

There’s no stress for this family. Instead, they have memories that will last a lifetime.

“I wish I could sleep for a day and a half,” Trungelliti said.

Unfortunately for the Argentine, he doesn’t have much time for that. Trungelliti needs to prepare for his second-round match against Budapest champion Marco Cecchinato.

“The last two times, I lost in the second round, so I really have to move on,” Trungelliti said. “I know that it's an opportunity.”

This time, he doesn’t have to drive 10 hours to seize it.