Trungelliti's memorable journey to Paris

Trungelliti's memorable journey to Paris

Marco Trungelliti of Argentina crashed out in the opening round of the Bengaluru Open ATP Challenger at KSLTA Courts in Bengaluru on Monday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Marco Trungelliti’s Bengaluru Open campaign crash-landed soon after take-off when we was outsmarted by Cem Ilkel in the opening round on Monday evening. So annoyed was the Argentine, he kept berating himself and looked like landing a fist on anyone in his vicinity.

But once the tempers cooled down in the winter chill, the 28-year-old sported a smile and started to share stories that has been a hallmark of his career. A typical journeyman player who has to struggle for most part of the year to stay afloat in the immensely competitive world of tennis, World No 123 Trungelliti first talked about his road trip from Barcelona to Paris in May that created a lot of buzz globally.

After learning that he could enter the French Open as a lucky loser, Trungelliti drove 12 hours from Barcelona to Paris with his brother Andre, mother Susana and grandmother Daphne to reach Roland Garros in the nick of time. He then made light of all that exhaustion in defeating Bernard Tomic to take home a cool 99,000 euros — the biggest earning of his career.

“In the beginning it was nothing because I wasn't into the draw, so the first two hours was normal journey. We were talking about life or whatever. But when I got in, mentally I was trying to be ready but physically it was obvious I wasn't ready. I mean I didn't practice and that’s not a good preparation. I drove for a few hours, maybe three or four.

“Argentina is quite big so we are used to making such trips because the flights are expensive. Many people used to drive, long at least 1500 miles per trip. Argentina is dangerous too. But we were lucky there was no traffic. It was around 12 hours and we arrived at the hotel around 1 and I slept 4 hours maybe because I wanted to practice a bit early. The trip was all the more sweet because I won,” recalled Trungelliti.

The Argentine said for players like him, such trips are regular routine and his journey got highlighted because he managed to win. “As tennis players, it’s normal for most of us. We don't go to a Grand Slam just like that. There are a lot of opportunities as you go from one tournament to another where you go by car, arrive late and stories like this but there is no media to write about. That's why nobody knows more stories like this. We have a lot of journeys like these even in South America. You play, you have a couple of tournaments in Brazil and then you have to fly to the US and you arrive and you play the day after.”

Trungelliti, talking without any inhibitions, slammed the Argentine tennis federation who he feels failed to cash in on the 2016 Davis Cup triumph. “I think we are the only country who won the Davis Cup and the next year we have no tournaments — no Challenger, no Futures. The guys who can come to Europe and go back to Argentina are the guys who have a lot of money. Normal guys in Argentina don't have the money to go to Europe one month and go back. Tennis is concentrated in North America and Europe. You have almost nothing in South America and Africa. Now China is hosting a lot of challengers. India has a few too. But Argentina we have nothing. We are at the end of the world.”

Trungelliti also ridiculed the Argentine sporting culture where athletes are elevated as idols one day and reduced to villains another. “(Juan Martin) del Potro is amazing but in Argentina we change our mind too much. One day he is an idol and the next he is an a******e. If he doesn't want to play it doesn't mean that he is an a******e because we have to look after our bodies. Same thing with (Lionel) Messi. We have Messi (who is often criticised) but then we have Maradona and he is taking drugs everywhere and he is an idol. But it’s the way we are!”