By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 19, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Frenchman Jeremy Chardy smashed an impressive 78 winners past sixth seed Juan Martin Del Potro in an epic five sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-3 to create the biggest upset of the Australian Open so far.
Chardy played the match of his life in defeating the Argentine, smacking endless forehand winners and remaining aggressive to put his opponent on the back foot for the majority of the three hour and 45 minute match.
“It’s a big win for me. And maybe the best of my career.” Chardy said in his post match press conference. “Since the first point to the last point, I play exactly the same. I stay very calm, very focus. That’s why I win today.”
Chardy came out generating superb forehand winners at every opportunity and broke Del Potro in his first service game to race to a 3-0 lead in the first set. The number six seed was unable to get back on serve and Chardy closed out the set 6-3.
Chardy played simply and effectively by mixing up play consistently by going into the net often to shut down points quickly with the forehand.
In the second set Chardy continued to control the game through his forehand and Del Potro seemed to struggle to find a way around it. Chardy again managed to get ahead in the second set, breaking Del Potro in the fifth and ninth games to win the set 6-3 and take a two sets to love lead.
Chardy maintained his intensity in the third set despite going down a break in the first game on a double fault, the Frenchman regaining control in the next game after Del Potro double faulted on his own break point down to put the set level 1-1.
By this stage the listless Argentine began to regain some motivation for the match, pumping himself up and holding serve for the rest of the set and forcing a tie-break situation. In the tie-break Del Potro ripped some forehand winners of his own, including one on set point to keep himself alive in the match.
The 2009 US Open champion played with momentum in the fourth set and was able to break Chardy in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead. The Frenchman’s body language began to drop as the match wore on and Del Potro was able to close out the set on his next service game 6-3 to send the encounter to a deciding set.
There was nothing between the two in the final set as Chardy picked up his game again and stayed with Del Potro throughout. The Argentine had a break point against him while serving at 3-4 30-40 but managed to save it with a backhand winner. Chardy had another chance to break a few points later and this time Del Potro sent a forehand well wide to give Chardy a 5-3 lead and serve for the match.
Chardy hit an ace on his first match point opportunity to defeat the sixth seed and win through to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for only the second time in his career.
“My tactic was very simple: I play slice with my backhand and I try to play short slice because like this he has to come in the court. After, with my forehand, I can go full power, so… It was nothing else (laughter).”
“I’m so happy. I just finished my match. But I just so happy, I enjoyed it.”
Del Potro was understandably disappointed following the loss but gave full credit to his opponent.
“Well, the match was really tough. Jeremy play so strong during four hours. He serves well. He made a lot of winners with the forehand, very good slices.”
“In the end when he had the chance to break me, he did. I think that was the key. In the end, he play better in the important moments, and he took the chance to win the match.”
Chardy will play Andreas Seppi in the fourth round after the Italian triumphed in five sets over Marin Cilic 6-7(2), 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.