Sport Tennis Bernard Tomic’s opponent makes mad dash from Barcelona to Paris
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Bernard Tomic’s opponent makes mad dash from Barcelona to Paris

Marco Trungelliti
Trungelliti celebrates making it to Paris after a long drive. Photo: Twitter - @FueBuena
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Marco Trungelliti’s preparation for his first-round French Open clash against Aussie Bernard Tomic has been far from ideal.

The 28-year-old Argentinian spent more than nine hours driving from Barcelona to Paris after a stunning set of circumstances left a berth in round one of the men’s singles available for players who lost in qualifying and could get to the French capital.

Tomic was, of course, due to play compatriot Nick Kyrgios in the first round at Roland Garros, a much-anticipated clash that will not eventuate after the latter withdrew citing a troublesome elbow injury.

Kyrgios was the eighth player to pull out of a round one clash, with new rules encouraging players to withdraw if battling injury before taking to the court.

Players can receive no prize money if they retire during a first-round clash and do not “perform to the required professional standard”.

Those who reach the main draw but then pull out are entitled to half of the prize money they would have received for a round one defeat, which helps avoid embarrassing early match exits.

The spate of withdrawals saw seven ‘lucky losers’ in qualifying already given spots in the first round, but Kyrgios’ exit meant officials needed to find another.

The only problem was that no players who lost in qualifying remained in Paris, and Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran, next in line to step up, was unable to take his place because he had already entered another tournament in Italy and travelled there.

These circumstances led to Trungelliti’s mad dash across Europe, with the World No.190 leaving his training base in Barcelona in a car with his brother, mother, grandmother.

Photos of Trungelliti’s journey circulated on social media and there were even videos, too, which showed the family singing to pass the time.

It was confirmed just before midnight on Sunday (local time) that Trungelliti had indeed reached Paris, less than 24 hours before his match with Tomic was due to start.

He even had time for a quick snooze before reporting to Roland Garros to ‘sign on’ and accept his place in the first round.

Making it to Paris was a big financial windfall for Trungelliti.

As a ‘lucky loser’, if he is defeated by Tomic he will take home 50 per cent of the prize money given to a player who loses in the first round, with the other half going to Kyrgios.

That sum is around A$61,888, meaning Trungelliti’s trip to Paris will see him pocket nearly A$31,000, a handy extra on top of the money he received for losing in qualifying.

Of course, Trungelliti could beat Tomic, too, a result that would not be the massive surprise it seems. He reached a career high ranking of 126th in 2016 but enjoys playing on clay.

Tomic traditionally struggles on clay but has been in impressive form in recent weeks. He enters the tournament ranked 206th after a lengthy lay-off that saw him play just one event between mid-November 2017 and March 2018.

During that period, Tomic briefly appeared on reality television program ‘I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!‘.

Tomic’s clash with Trungelliti begins at 7pm (AEST) and will be screened on Fox Sports.

Watch Trungelliti and his family singing in the car

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