Troicki extends farewell with comeback win

 - Alex Sharp

Former world No.12 saved match point to advance as men's qualifying launched into life at RG2021

Viktor Troicki, Roland Garros 2021, qualifying first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

The curtain is falling but Viktor Troicki is determined to put on one last show at Roland-Garros 2021.

Down 6-0, 5-2, the former world No.12 was already looking up flights home as a gloomy rain delay halted his qualifying first-round tussle with Brazilian prodigy Thiago Seyboth Wild.

Troicki found inspiration from his family, saved match point and clawed his way to an “ugly” 0-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5) triumph.

“Let’s say it’s not the first time I’ve done something crazy like this in my career. The match was practically over, I was ready to go home,” stated the 35-year-old, erasing match point to prevail for the eighth time since 2015.


“I was already looking at the flights during that rain break. I spoke to my wife and she was the biggest support, gave me a lot of motivation not to give up.”

Troicki has played at the very peak, with three ATP titles and a Davis Cup to his name. Now with a growing family and a succession of injuries taking their toll, the Serbian world No.205 is calling time on his 15-year career.

Viktor Troïcki, Roland-Garros 2021© Clément Mahoudeau / FFT

“This is my last Roland-Garros, I’m planning to retire pretty soon, I don’t know where. I want to play all the Grand Slams until the end of the year and see what happens, have some fun,” continued Troicki, who featured three times in the Roland-Garros fourth round.

“This is the first time heading onto clay, as a hard worker, I’ve found it hard to work, to do all the preparations again. I just feel it’s a good time.

“Now I want to enjoy the last few tournaments I’m playing. That’s why I didn’t give up, that’s why I fought to the end. It paid off. “


One last main draw is the “goal” before he bids adieu to Paris' terre battue. One particular defeat in the French capital still burns for Troicki.

“I was 5-2 up against Andy Murray in the fifth set in the 2011 fourth round. I served for it at 5-3, had 30-0 to go into the quarters and the top 10 in the world. I knew it all, how big that match was," he recalls.

“Andy came back and that was one of the toughest losses of my career. Whenever I’m here I remember it, but I also had a lot of great memories.”

Troicki will next take on Australia's Aleksandar Vukic for a place in the final round of qualifying.

Arthur Fils ©Philippe Montigny / FFT

Teenage dreams

Over to home hopes and 16-year-old French wildcard Arthur Fils crowned his debut with an impressive victory over Australia’s Bernard Tomic.

The 2020 Orange Bowl champion overcame the former world No.17 with a patient 6-7(5), 7-6(1), 6-3 display to hold his arms aloft in celebration.

“I think clay is my favourite surface. I love it because it gives me time and I can play more with my forehand,” said the elated 16-year-old. “Every match is a fight and I love it. I think I only lost two matches on clay in juniors."

Fils will tackle another Australian in the second round, 31st seed Marc Polmans, who overcame fellow Aussie Alex Bolt in three sets.

Arthur Fils Roland-Garros 2021©Philippe Montigny / FFT

There was more home delight as 297th-ranked French wildcard Manuel Guinard took out Tomas Machac 6-3, 6-3.  

Qualifying top seed Ilya Ivashka of Belarus suffered a shock exit at the hands of Russian world No.448 Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4, 7-6(1). The 89th-ranked Ivashka had an excellent build-up to Roland-Garros, defeating Alexander Zverev en route to the semi-finals in Munich and taking a set off of Rafael Nadal in Barcelona.

Back in 2018, Maximilian Marterer enjoyed a second-week run into the fourth round in Paris. On Monday the German started his qualifying quest with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback facing French wildcard Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard.  

World No.164 Thomas Fabbiano moved past American Christopher Eubanks 6-4, 7-5, while 22nd seed Carlos Taberner of Spain clinched a 6-1, 6-2 victory against Slovakian lefty Martin Klizan.