Service with a smile, and another giant-killer gone. Jeremy Chardy made light work of what many expected to be a tricky encounter against Sergiy Stakhovsky, notching up a 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 6-0 victory that puts him through to the fourth round at The Championships for the first time in his career – and the Frenchman couldn’t be happier to see the hard work of the past year starting to pay off.
“I love this tournament,” said Chardy, a former Junior champion. “I like the atmosphere, the traditions. The French Open is special too, because it’s in France, but after Paris, Wimbledon is my favourite tournament. I’m really happy to be in the second week here because I’ve wanted to play well here every year. This is the first time I really have, so I’m going to enjoy it.”
Backed up by a first delivery that reached 130mph, Chardy was all but untouchable on serve throughout the contest, fending off five break points against the man who famously downed Roger Federer in 2013. Stakhovsky had tamed Ernests Gulbis in the previous round at this year’s Championships, but simply couldn’t find a way through the Frenchman’s defences after battling his way back into the match in the second set.
“For me it’s really important to serve good,” said Chardy. “When I start to feel my serve I get a lot of confidence on every shot after, and the game is so much easier.
Quick and easy points were the order of the day, not least with Chardy still suffering the after-effects of his five-set victory over Marinko Matosevic in the second round. The world No.42 trained for just 45 minutes on Thursday and woke up still feeling stiff on Friday morning, but once he got onto the practice courts, he was swiftly back into his rhythm.
In that sense, Stakhovsky played into the Frenchman’s hands. His serve-volley game was central to that stunning second-round win over Federer a year ago, but Chardy – who also beat the seven-time Gentlemen’s Singles champion, on the caly of Rome in May – was prepared to soak up the pressure and play his own game from the baseline.
The pair had met just once before, at last year’s US Open, where Chardy prevailed in a tight five-set contest. Since then, the 27-year-old has been working with Swedish coach Magnus Tideman, who has set about rebuilding Chardy’s game from the ground up. Their aim is to finally crack the ATP World Tour’s top 20 and contend at the Grand Slams – and work harder than ever before.
“For him, it was really important to make my game more solid,” Chardy admitted. “I think since the beginning of the year I’ve played much better. I had some great results, and I think my confidence is back.
“We spend a lot of time on court, because he wants me to improve a lot of aspects of my game. The intensity during practice is really high, higher than before for me. I think that’s why I’m playing better. I changed the way I work a little bit and for the moment it has been really good for my game.”
The thought of two days off drew a smile, but Chardy’s confidence is sky-high and he cannot wait for his fourth round encounter against Marin Cilic, who lost their only previous meeting back in 2009.
Should his serve continue to fire on Monday, Chardy senses this may be his moment. “I still have a chance to continue in the tournament. Cilic is a really good player, but I think I have a really good chance against him. I just have to continue to play my game, not to try to play better – the way I’ve played in these three first matches, I have enough to beat him.”
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