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Family road trip resumes as Argentine lucky loser bows out of French Open

Christophe Simon, AFP | Marco Trungelliti's last-gasp drive to Paris with his 88-year-old grandma has been the buzz of the French Open.

Three days after his epic dash to Paris in a rental car with wife, brother, mother and grandma, Argentina’s Marco Trungelliti will be heading home with memories to cherish and a handsome payslip following his second-round defeat at Roland Garros.

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The world number 190, who stunned Australia’s Bernard Tomic on Monday just hours after a frantic 1,000-kilometre drive from Barcelona, was unable to repeat the feat in the second round of the French Open, falling to Italy’s Marco Cecchinato in straight sets, 6-1, 7-6, 6-1.

The lucky loser’s last-gasp journey from Barcelona to the French capital, documented by the photos and videos his wife posted along the way, had been the buzz of Roland Garros this week, a fairytale story made all the sweeter by his remarkable defeat of Tomic.

Trungelliti’s family road trip was made possible by a rule change introduced to prevent injured players from starting matches and then withdrawing mid-contest. When Nick Kyrgios pulled out with an injury on Sunday, and the next standby player, India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran, was unable to attend, Trungelliti got an unexpected call.

The long-haired Argentine had lost his final-round qualifying match on Friday and was enjoying some family time in Barcelona with brother Andre, mother Susana, and grandmother Daphne, 88, who had just flown over from Argentina. The small car they rented to visit Barcelona would soon come in handy: when the call from Paris came, Trungelliti got granny out of the shower and they all jumped in.

"In Argentina, unless you live in Buenos Aires, a 1,000km drive is nothing, so it was all okay," he later told reporters. "For me it was perfect. I lost [in qualifying], I left, I ate barbecue – which for an Argentine is one of the reasons to stay alive – so I was very, very relaxed."

Trungelliti was even more relaxed when he capped his epic journey with a heart-warming four-sets win over Tomic, firing 16 aces and 68 clear winners past the hapless Australian. The win ensured he would walk away with €99,000 – twice his average yearly earnings.

But he was unable to repeat the exploit on Wednesday against Cecchinato, who was fresh from his very first title win in Budapest last month – a tournament the Italian entered as, of course, a lucky loser.

Halep plays catch-up

In day four’s other results, the men’s second seed Alexander Zverev survived a scare when Serbia’s unseeded Dusan Lajovic went two sets up, with the German eventually prevailing in five sets 2-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. He will face Bosnian Damir Dzumhur for a place in the last 16.

In another gruelling five-setter, fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov had to wait until the 17th game of the decisive set to break Jared Donaldson of the US, winning 6-7(2), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. Eighth seed Belgian David Goffin had no such trouble, brushing aside French teenager Corentin Moutet 7-5, 6-0, 6-1.

Former champion Novak Djokovic also sealed a straight-sets win over Spain's Jaume Munar (7-6, 6-4, 6-4), booking a place in the third round of the French Open for the 13th time. He will face another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.

There was heartbreak for the home crowd on Philippe Chatrier court as Japan's Kei Nishikori battled past home favourite Benoit Paire in five sets (6-3, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3). But it was a good day overall for the home country as Gilles Simon recovered to beat 12th seed Sam Querrey in four sets (1-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-1) and Jeremy Chardy toppled 17th seed Tomas Berdych 7-6, 7-6, 1-6, 5-7, 6-2 in a rain-delayed thriller.

In the women’s draw, an all-French tussle between Alizé Cornet and Pauline Parmentier saw the former squander an astonishing 25 break points (and convert just two) as she surrendered an early lead to crash out in three sets 6-7, 6-4, 6-2. 

While all her opponents were battling for a spot in the third round, world number one Simona Halep finally got her French Open campaign going with a delayed - and initially laborious - 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 first-round victory over American Alison Riske. Twice a runner-up at Roland Garros, the Romanian is still chasing her maiden Grand Slam title and will next face another American, Taylor Townsend.

Elsewhere, US Open champion Sloane Stephens eased into the third round with a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win over Polish qualifier Magdalena Frech. Second seed Caroline Wozniacki was even more clinical, needing just 51 minutes to dispose of Spain's Georgina Garcia Perez 6-1 6-0.

In an all-American duel, 13th seed Madison Keys eased past Caroline Dolehide in straight sets (6-4, 6-1), as did Japan's Naomi Osaka, seeded 21, who dispatched Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-4, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina, the in-form fourth seed, eased into the third round with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 win over Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, while two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded 8th, needed just over an hour to down Spain's Lara Arruabarrena 6-0, 6-4.

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