By Alana Mitchelson
(January 15, 2014) MELBOURNE – Pressured into not one, not two, but three thrilling tie-breaks in a four-set second round epic against the always competitive Alexandr Dolgopolov, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy lapped up the crowd’s applause as he broke ahead just in time to seal out the match, 7-5, 7-6(7-5), 6-7(3-7), 7-6(7-5).
“With every shot, he can do something special,” he said of Dolgopolov’s unique style.
“It’s tough to play against him. I think he’s a really talented player. He can go fast, he has a good touch and although he serves a lot of the time to the same spot, it’s still difficult to receive. So you have to be really focused on your game and after every point, you have to stay focused because he is really talented with his backhand.
“He has a strange backhand,” the Frenchman said, making a face, “but he never misses.”
Chardy handled his opponent’s versatile game and seemingly effortless coverage of the court by taking to the ball early, where possible, and strove to strike the forehand winner down the far wing whensoever the opportunity arose. This became his best shot throughout the match and it carried him through some of the most telling points.
Dolgopolov’s ‘never say die’ attitude meant Chardy was forced into nerve-racking tie-break after tie-break. While the Ukranian’s reflexive deflections of Chardy’s forehand drives were not perhaps the most tidy of groundstrokes, his astute ability to read the point and find impossible angles on the court led him to finally clinch his first set of the match in the third.
But as the match wore on and the warm north-easterly wind picked up, Dolgopolov made rash decisions at costly moments which allowed Chardy to break ahead in the last tie to secure a place in the third round.
“Today I think I was very good physically because I didn’t feel tired at any time,” Chardy admitted despite the severe heat.
“If we see the result, we see it really was a close match.
“I think I now have big confidence. I played good in Brisbane and I played two really good and solid matches here. So now I’ll play against Ferrer and I feel really good. I think, to beat him, I don’t have to try to do anything special – just play my game and we will see.”
Chardy will face David Ferrer on Friday as the third round matches of the Australian Open 2014 get underway.
Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.