The talk of the All England Club in recent days has been of a potential modern-day Battle of the Sexes between Andy Murray and Serena Williams. Unlikely to happen perhaps, but still a decent story for the British press who have plenty of space to fill at a time of year when the country goes tennis-mad.
One man who knows better than most of what it would be like to take on the women’s world No.1 is Jeremy Chardy. The Frenchman spent a day hitting with Williams in Mauritius last December during a two-week training camp with Patrick Mouratoglou.
And while Chardy may be jesting when he said Murray would have “no chance” against Williams, he was impressed with the American’s hitting during his few hours as a sparring partner, although he maintains they did not play any points.
“The first thing I said when I played with her was ‘wow’,” said Chardy. “She was playing very well. I understand why she wins all the time easily when she plays good. During the practice she was playing very good and I was playing normal. Now I really understand why all the girls cannot beat her.”
Chardy’s hit with Williams has clearly served him well as he is currently playing some of the best tennis of his life, sitting at a career-high ranking of No.25. The 26-year-old booked his place in the third round with a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(4) victory over German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff.
After play was suspended midway through the third set on Thursday, the players resumed on Friday and 23-year-old Struff, who is ranked No.115 and was making just his first Wimbledon appearance, put up a decent fight, taking Chardy to tie-breaks in the final two sets but falling short in both.
Chardy, the No.28 seed, now takes on world No.1 Novak Djokovic on Saturday as he bids to try and get past the last 32 at Wimbledon for the first time. The form book does not make for pleasant reading, though, Chardy having never won a set in all six of their meetings, which includes a defeat here in the first round in 2011.
“It’s always tough to play against him,” said Chardy. “I have lost all the time so I have to change something. I really don’t know what at the moment but I will speak with Patrick and I will try to change something to try to win. But for the moment I really don’t know.”
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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