Patrick Mouratoglou is the man widely acknowledged with helping Serena Williams to play what many feel is the best tennis of her life.
But his work was not quite done for the day when the women’s world No.1 cruised through in the first match of the day on Centre Court. The French coach dashed to Court 12 in time to catch his compatriot Jeremy Chardy seal his place in the second round with a 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Ryan Harrison.
Currently without a permanent coach, Chardy is receiving advice from Mouratoglou which is clearly working. He currently sits at a career-high ranking of No.25 after preparing for this season by spending time with Mouratoglou and hitting with Williams in Mauritius last December.
“Before my match I always speak with Patrick about the tactics, about the match, and when Serena is done he comes to my match all the time,” said 26-year-old Chardy. “She was playing first and I was second but the match before us was very fast so he could not see the first two sets. After [Serena finished] he came to my match and after we spoke about my next match.”
Chardy knows fine well that he will not quite be able to entice Mouratoglou away from Williams on a permanent basis but the present arrangement clearly fits as Chardy, just like Williams, is feeling very content with where his game is at.
“I think I am really solid compared to before,” said Chardy, a former junior Wimbledon champion in 2005 who has never got further than the third round at senior level. “I think I have improved on every surface because grass before was not my favourite. But now I start to feel better and I can play on the baseline. Today was a very good match for me and my confidence.”
Chardy was made to work hard for his victory by 21-year-old Harrison. After the opening two sets were split, the pivotal moment came as the American served to stay in the third set at 5-6. In an extremely tight game, Harrison saved four set points but netted on the fifth.
Chardy then broke in the fourth set for 4-2 and with Harrison serving to stay in the match at 2-5, Chardy hit three stunning return winners which Harrison could do nothing about. “I was a little bit lucky because I went the right way all the time but it is better to finish with a break than to have to serve for the match,” said Chardy.
Next for Chardy is Jan-Lennard Struff, the world No.115 who won his first Grand Slam match with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Blaz Kavcic. If Chardy comes through that, he faces a potential third-round encounter with Novak Djokovic, one for which Mouratoglou will no doubt have plenty to say.
While Chardy is playing some of his best tennis, Harrison clearly is not. Ranked No.48 at this point last year, the loss ensures that he will drop out of the top 100. “I’m not concerned at all about my ranking,” said Harrison. “I’m concerned about where my game is going.”
When asked to elaborate on what he needs to improve, he simply replied: “Everything.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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