Roger Federer secured his 35th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final with a straight sets victory over Canadian Milos Raonic, and Andy Murray booked his fifteenth overall by beating a very tired Gilles Simon in straight sets. So far, so predictable…. 2nd and 3rd seeds should by right reach the semi’s – the same is obviously true of Ferrer and Djokovic on the other side of the draw.
I read on twitter today one journalist, who shall remain nameless for his own protection, proudly declare that he’d called five of the eight quarter-finalists correctly before the matches begun, but admitted that he’d not seen Jeremy Chardy or Nicholas Almagro coming this far. To be brutally honest, if you select the top four seeds then stick two pins in the draw whilst blindfolded you’ll probably get five or six right. So the main stories here are the unexpected tales from the lower seeds and the lights which have not shone so brightly before.
Tomas Berdych (Fifth seed) does not fall into this category, he’s a fairly solid second-week man these days, and of course is capable on his day of causing problems for anyone. Since the beginning of 2010 he’s played in 12 slams and reached the quarters in half of those, including of course his losing finalist appearance at Wimbledon in 2010.
Tsonga’s performances in slams over the last two years is even more impressive – again six out of twelve campaigns reached the quarters, and three times he was a semi-finalist.
But who is this Jeremy Chardy? It’s the Frenchman’s eighth year as a pro, but he’s never before reached a quarter final in an event this prestigious. In fact, in his nineteen previous appearances at Grand Slam events, he’s only progressed through past the second round four times before – his best result being on home soil at Roland Garros where he reached the fourth round in 2008.
Whilst he’s the only unseeded player left in the competition, he’s no whipping-boy. Already he’s sent Juan Martin del Potro and Andreas Seppi packing, and although his head-to-head record against Murray is 1-4, it’s not irrelevant that the “1” is the most recent match. Andy suffered a shock loss to Chardy in last year’s Cincinnati last year, and he was defending champion at the time.
He’s certainly having the best tournament of his career, and is high on confidence after following up that surprising 3rd round win over the Argentine giant del Potro with another win. It wasn’t an upset on the scale of Rosol/Nadal at Wimbledon last year, but it was still a very surprising result – not even the experts predicted it, as explained above.
Chardy feels confident in his game, he relies a lot on his forehand explaining that “when my forehand is here, my head is here, everything is here” and “So when I start to feel good on my forehand, I play more relax[ed]” – unless he’s an expert at kidology, expect him to desperately dance around Murray’s groundstrokes as the Scot is sure to target his backhand side when they meet!
Despite being French, it seems he’s got a bit of backbone about him (Je plaisante – I’m joking) – he admitted that he’s carrying an injury, but said “I have to forget it because I can be in quarters. If I have pain everywhere in my body, doesn’t matter… So I forget my pain and I just be strong in my head.” Impressive stuff.
He added that the victory over Murray last year gives him confidence going into their quarter final match. “I always play good against big player. Sometimes I beat some. So I really believe on my game, on my talent” well if he beats Murray we’ll all believe in it.
So Andy Murray will have to beware the man on the opposite side of the net. Not only did Jeremy Chardy win the last time they faced each other, but the fact that Chardy hasn’t been here before and wasn’t expected to come this far this time will weigh in the Frenchman’s favour. He has nothing to lose, and as he put it himself “It’s always easier when you have to play with nothing to lose”.