RG18

THE FLIP SIDE

by

Jane Voigt

Bernard Tomic is one of those players who has pretty much squandered his tennis talents. He’s known more for partying and fast cars, although he won three career titles and reached a career high of number 17 over two yeasr ago.

Other than that there’s not much for many to like about Tomic. He makes opponents wait, he has been accused of tanking more than once, and has incited useless arguments with tournament officials. However, a sympathetic ear is essential to understanding this Australian 25-year-old. He’s the product of rough parenting from father and coach John, who has been kicked off tournaments for aggressive behavior but is in Paris with his son.

Enter Marco Trungelliti, the flip side of Tomic. A qualifier like Bernie, Trungelliti became yet another lucky loser on Monday — by a route many would not have traveled. The Argentine left Paris for his home in Barcelona on Sunday after losing in qualifiers, only to learn he would play Tomic if he could get back to the City of Light by 11 a.m. Monday. No problem. Trungelliti, his brother, mother and grandmother stuffed themselves and their gear into a small car, drove 11 hours and over 1,000 kilometers to make the match. Presumably a bit road-weary, he nonetheless outplayed and ultimately turned back Tomic, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

“[The tournament] told me I was first alternate,” Trungelliti told Tennis Channel after the match. “Once we knew the chance we drove a lot.”

His grandmother, who will turn 89 in a month, had never seen Marco play a match and had never seen a tennis match, for that matter.

“She never went to the court,” he began. “She never watched tennis. Not even myself.”

The troupe had packed some sandwiches and coffee before pulling out, dusting plans to go to the beach. They stopped three times en route, although Marco insisted upon a real meal later in the evening.

“We stopped to eat because I knew I had to eat,” he said, smiling. “I was trying not to think too much [about the match].”

Trungelliti has played in seventeen major tournaments, advancing to the main draw three times. Last year in Paris he lost in round two to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez who, on Monday, took out 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka. Trungelliti also lost in the second round in Paris and Melbourne in 2016.

Therefore, as the kilometers clicked by on the family’s trip north, he “tried to think of it as a normal match.”

It was anything but. By the time Tomic decided to walk on court, the stands were packed. Anticipation was high, as the story of the mighty Marco had spread like any good story on social media.

Trungelliti played his predominantly defensive game, sprinkled with accurate drop shots that caught the baseline-hugging Tomic off guard or, as some might interpret, uninterested in acting on.

Tomic, known for a booming serve at six-foot-five, whacked 12 aces to Marco’s 16. Although Tomic outdid his opponent on first serve percentage, 62 percent compared to 53, Trungelliti won more points on his first and second serves: 73 to 57. He also won more points off his second serve. Plus he saved more break points. He outplayed Tomic from every conceivable stat angle: first-serve return points won, second-serve return points won, and break points converted. He outscored Tomic in winners: 68 to 39. The two were tied in unforced errors: 37.

For his job well done, Trungelliti earned €20,000, half the first round prize money. Nick Kyrgios, who withdrew Sunday and caused this ruckus with “Who’s the REAL lucky loser to play Tomic?”, earned the same amount in prize money. The splitting of first-round prize money is a new rule this year developed by the Grand Slam Board.

After beating Tomic, Trungelitti smiled wildly and gestured thumbs-up to cheering fans on Court 9. According to Reuters, “he waved around the court as he left the arena showing this is one tennis player who is intent on making the most of a second chance.”

“‘I am feeling so relaxed,” he said as he grinned, according to the same source. “‘For me it is perfect. I lost [in qualifying], I left, I ate barbecue — which for an Argentine is one of the reasons to stay alive — so I am very, very relaxed.’”

Compare that elation and positive energy to the clipped answers Tomic gave in press, and were tweeted by Ben Rothenberg, following the match:

“Well, it was okay, no?”

“Yeah, I guess I was okay.”

“Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see what’s next.”

“Yeah, but it changed, then I had to play. That’s it.”

“What do you mean? Next question.”

“I go home to Monaco and that’s it.”

Trungelliti had never played Tomic until Monday. We bid one player a farewell and are happy to see that the right side of the coin landed face up on the terre battue.

*

Source of  image Getty Images

 

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