Don’t dream it’s over: Trevisan finds her way

 - Chris Oddo

Italian qualifier looking up as magical week of upsets builds momentum

Martina Trevisan, Roland-Garros 2020, third round©Clément Mahoudeau / FFT

Martina Trevisan rushed into her post-match press conference after a dramatic victory over No.20 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece and brushed off the fatigue as she addressed reporters. 

Never mind the fatigue. The joy in her eyes and excitement in her voice were palpable - her string of victories had been a long time coming.

A former top-10 junior and 2009 Roland-Garros junior doubles semi-finalist, Trevisan left the sport for four years to battle with personal problems and an eating disorder, which she wrote about in depth this summer for an Italian website. 

Since her return to tennis in 2014, the 1.60m Italian has chugged up the rankings ever so steadily, but she could not find a way to crash through the wall that kept her outside Grand Slam draws. 

Gradually, with determination, she has found her way. Trevisan’s fortunes started to change in January when she qualified for the Australian Open before losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin in the first round. 

This week in Paris, she took that long awaited next step. After 16 consecutive losses to top-100-ranked players, Trevisan came to Paris on a mission. She qualified for the main draw and willed herself to three improbable victories over world No.75 Camila Giorgi, world No.51 Coco Gauff and, on Friday, world No.24 Sakkari. 

Trevisan said it had not been easy in Paris, having had to play her way into form. 

"Actually in the first round of qualies I had a lot of difficulties, but I felt good on court,” she said. “Day by day I got more confident on court and I arrived here, in the fourth round of Roland-Garros. Really, it's a dream and maybe with time I will realise what happened tonight."

Trevisan, ranked No.159, has an older brother Matteo who is a former world No.1 junior and an ATP player. She said he had tried calling her “like three, four, five times” during her press conference. 

Of course there is much to celebrate, but Trevisan can hardly believe what is happening to her here in Paris. Celebrations will come later.

“I'm living in a dream, so I don't want this dream to finish,” Trevisan told after her gritty 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 triumph over the Greek star. “Now I will go to the physio, to have something for dinner, and maybe I will realise what happened tonight on the Court No.9 of Roland-Garros. But I'm so happy." 

At 26, Trevisan is happy to be writing an uplifting chapter to a tennis story that hasn’t always been a fairytale. She said she needed to go through a difficult process of growth to become the woman and player she was today. 

"Sometimes I think about that period, but I know that in that period it was the good decision to make, to take my time, to rest,” she said. “I didn't feel good, but now I'm here so it's not important what happened in the past. 

"I'm here with a new life. Martina is growing up, so that's important." 

Martina Trevisan, Roland-Garros 2020, third round©Clément Mahoudeau / FFT

A southpaw that hits heavy spin and exhibits deft defensive acumen with polished footwork, the fiery Italian credits her mental toughness and a newfound positivity for her recent success. 

“I think the key is the mentality,” she said. “The mentality to never give up on every point, maybe last year my thought during the matches was 'Oh my God I lost another point, I lost another chance' and I didn't think in the future.

"So I lost this point? ‘Come on, there is another one'. This year something changed, and during the match I'm positive. I'm not negative and I don't think about my mistakes." 

Next challenge is a fourth-round encounter with world No.8 and clay-court guru Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. Moments after the biggest victory of her career, Trevisan wasn't quite ready to contemplate the complexity of that challenge, but she will be ready when the time comes. 

“I don't think about Bertens right now,” she said. “But I will tomorrow. I already played her last year or two years ago, I don't remember, maybe last year in Charleston, so I will prepare my match as today and yesterday and the past days, and I'm trying to be at my best."