Lucky loser Marco Trungelliti drives 10 hours & reaches second round of 2018 French Open
Lucky loser Marco Trungelliti had to ask his 89-year-old grandma to get out of the shower so they could start a 10-hour drive to Paris that ended with a £69,000 pay day at the French Open.
Argentine Trungelliti, 28, returned home to Barcelona after losing in qualifying last week, but made the dash to the French capital when Australian Nick Kyrgios pulled out of his tie against Bernard Tomic with an elbow injury.
Trungelliti, ranked 190th in the world, made the 650-mile journey with his grandma Dafne, mother Susanna and brother Andre and arrived in Paris just before midnight on Sunday.
And the fairytale continued as he earned a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory over the Australian qualifier, who has been ranked as high as 17th and reached the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
"My brother was the one who drove most out of the 10 hours. He drove maybe six hours," a beaming Trungelliti told a packed news conference.
"I drove four hours with lots of different music. Sometimes without music.
"We have a type of music which is very typical of folk music from my city. We listened to that, as well.
"We stopped every two hours to have a coffee, because up until then, I didn't really know that I would be playing.
"There was no reason to be stressed."
Hitting the road - Trungelliti's 650-mile drive was rewarded with victory over Bernard Tomic
Trungelliti's family were visiting him in Barcelona, where he now lives, and planned to rent a car to travel around Spain during their holiday.
Instead they all ended up going to Paris - Susanna and Andre's first trip there - after Trungelliti's coach told him there might be a chance to play at Roland Garros.
"My grandma was in the shower and I told her: 'OK, we go to Paris.' There are many flights cancelled, so I didn't trust that too much," he added in Roland Garros's main interview room, which is usually reserved for the big-name players.
"The best option was just to take the car.
"It wasn't that long to get ready.
"We needed a grandma, for sure! We had half-an-hour to make the luggage, the baggage, and then we left."
Marco Trungelliti's long drive from Barcelona to Paris has earned him a cool 79,000 euros (£69,000) - at least
Kyrgios' withdrawal meant it was the first time there have been eight lucky losers - players who have lost in an event's qualifying round - in the men's draw at a Grand Slam in the Open Era.
India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran was the next lucky loser in line - but he was already in Italy for a Challenger Tour event.
Gunneswaran would have collected 20,000 euros (£17,000) just for playing against Tomic if he had stayed in Paris - but instead has lost in the first round of the Challenger in Vicenza and earned just 660 euros.
No other qualifying losers were still in Paris, meaning Trungelliti drove back in a race to become the first one to sign in on Monday morning and play.
"I think at least mentally I was ready to play. Physically, I had no idea," he said. "In the end, it was good. I didn't feel pressure at all, nothing.
"I lost on Thursday here, so Friday I didn't play. Saturday, I didn't practise. Sunday, nothing. So just today the warm-up, and then we went to the court.
"It's a beautiful moment."
A rule change in the Grand Slams this year has contributed to the number of withdrawals by players before their first-round matches at Roland Garros.
If a player pulls out injured before stepping on to court, they receive 50% of the prize money and the lucky loser takes the other half.
Previously, the injured player received nothing if they withdrew and took all the money if they started the match but later retired.
Now players withdrawing from their first-round match through injury after "performing below professional standards" may be fined up to 100% of their prize money.
Changes to the rules became a priority for the Grand Slam Board after seven players quit their Wimbledon first-round matches last year, leading to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic urging for the issue to be addressed.