Just two majors into the new “lucky loser” rule, and we’ve already got a story that’s going to be mighty difficult to top.
Originally ninth-alternate for the main draw, a slew of withdrawals meant 28-year-old Marco Trungelliti found himself back in with a shot at playing should he be available come 10:30 Monday morning. The problem was, Trungelliti had already made his way to Barcelona for a holiday with family, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him.
Ten hours and approximately 1000km later, Trungelliti was back in Paris, having shared the ride with his brother, mother and 89-year old grandma. Naturally, his name was called when Nick Kyrgios pulled out of his clash with Bernard Tomic, and the Argentine went on to win in four sets.
Of course, Trungelliti won’t go on to win this tournament, and it’ll probably be difficult to remember his name in a week, but there’s no denying his story embodies the very best that sport can offer – namely the human power of perseverance.
Tuesday in Paris brings us the final day of first-round action, read on for a look at three matches well worth your while.
Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Kyle Edmund (GBR)  — Second on Court 3
The latest chapter in the storied rivalry between Australia and South Africans masquerading as Englishmen (ask a cricket fan), this matchup should also provide the exact sort of fun you’d want out of a first-round encounter. Still outside the top 100, the 19-year-old De Minaur has nevertheless already made a name for himself with his high-energy, scrambling game, and played a highly entertaining match against the heavy-hitting Edmund a few weeks ago, which the latter won 6-2, 7-5. Whether the Aussie can improve on that result here is hard to tell, but whether it’s an almighty tussle or Edmund rolls, their cat-and-mouse exchanges are sure to give you your money’s worth.
Julia Goerges (GER)  v Dominka Cibulkova (SVK) — Third on Court 1
About as close to a seeded opponent as you can get in first-round play, eleventh seed Goerges will take on world no. 32 Dominika Cibulkova in a match that has “upset” written all over it. Only missing the cut as her run to last week’s Strasbourg final came after seeds were announced, former world no. 4 Cibulkova has all the form her opponent wishes she had, and a much more clay-friendly game with her ability to cover the court. If Goerges is to survive this one, she’ll need to combine her world-class feel with a large helping of aggression and really go for her shots, which should make this a very entertaining encounter.
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) v Serena Williams (USA) — Third on Philippe Chatrier
It’s not often a match between the world no. 70 and 453 is going to garner much attention, but when the latter of those players is Serena-freaking-Williams, we can probably make an exception. It’s been 486 days since she last played grand slam tennis, with only five matches since (none on clay) under her belt, and while Pliskova is not the player her twin sister is, she comes in with decent form, having made the round-of-16 or better at four of the five tournaments in her 2018 clay court campaign. With that in mind, Serena might have to find a higher gear than she’s used to at this stage of a major tournament, and that makes this very interesting indeed.