Best of Week 1: Women's draw
Featuring Trungelliti's road-trip, Sascha's friends from the north, and Bautista Agut's touching tribute.
Last Sunday Marco Trungelliti was in Barcelona, having lost his final-round qualifying match three days earlier, with his name then well down the lucky loser list. That Sunday afternoon after a rash of player withdrawals, an elbow injury saw Nick Kyrgios withdraw from his all-Aussie clash with Bernard Tomic, and the next alternate had already entered in an event in Italy.
So Trungelliti found himself in the draw – as long as he could get to Paris on time. With his brother, mother and grandmother, the world No.190 set off on the 10-hour, 1,000-kilometre drive to the French capital documented on social media. Hours after his arrival he defeated Tomic 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4 to reach the second round, and charm Planet Tennis.
There’s nothing like a really startling statistic to illustrate a sporting fact. As of the third round of Roland-Garros 2018, Alexander Zverev never again has to hear it said that he has yet to beat a single top-50 player in a Grand Slam...
But against the No.26 seed Damir Dzumhur he came worryingly close to making it eight defeats out of eight opponents faced at the majors. Understandable concern was etched on the faces of his support team on Court Philippe-Chatrier as the No.2 seed was obliged to save match point, before edging to a 6-2 3-6 4-6 7-6(3) 7-5 win.
Facing the No.4 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the baking cauldron of the new Court 18, the American NextGen star Jared Donaldson was in trouble in the deciding set of their second round match. He began cramping so badly that even treatment from the trainer did little to help.
The world No.57 could no longer bend his knees, either to serve or even to sit down at the changeovers, so as he attempted to hold his serve at 6-6, desperate measures were called for – he served underarm to draw an error for 7-6.
But when he tried another at 8-8 Dimitrov was wise to it, and got the crucial break. “He was very smart to do it,” said the Bulgarian afterwards. “It worked… the first time.”
The No.13 seed arrived at Roland-Garros just one week after the death of his mother Ester, having taken the decision to play here in honour of her memory.
He battled past Denis Istomin in a five-set first round encounter, and advanced to the third round when Santiago Giraldo was forced to retire in the second set. In the last 32 Novak Djokovic proved too strong for him, but at the net in moving scenes the Serbian made a point of expressing his respects.
“The past few days have been difficult,” said Bautista Agut. “My life is tennis. It isn’t easy to keep your mind on court when you’ve all these thoughts and feelings in your head. I believed the best thing was to come here and move forward, not hide from it all but rather keep fighting. And I did that.”
Post-match press conferences are a matter of compulsory attendance for players, and very little they hear there surprises them. But after Zverev’s second round win over Dusan Lajovic, the German became mesmerised by a long question from British reporter Jonathan Pinfield – not so much the content as Pinfield’s broad (really, really broad) regional accent.
“Where are you from, buddy?” queried Zverev.
Pinfield helped him out: “Yorkshire in England.”
Replied Zverev: “Nice. If I ever make a tournament there, I’m coming just because of that accent. Love it. I don’t understand a word you’re saying, but it’s not important.”