When Frenchman Jeremy Chardy was growing up, he idolised Pete Sampras, which might explain why he claims the serve is his favourite shot.
As it turns out at this Australian Open, the unseeded Frenchman quite possibly could be channeling some of Sampras’ devastating shot-making and fortitude. The 25-year-old from Pau, a charming city on the northern edge of the Pyrenees, has found a path to his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“I’m very happy,” said Chardy on Monday after posting a 5-7 6-3 6-2 6-2 fourth round win over 21st-ranked Andreas Seppi of Italy.
“(It’s) just like a dream.”
What’s been most impressive about the 36th-ranked Chardy’s road to the quarterfinals is his last two victories, which did not come easily.
In the third round, Chardy displayed a resilient determination to upset sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro 6-3 6-3 6-7 (3) 3-6 6-3. Often a player will have a letdown in their next match following a big victory, but Chardy overcame a first-set loss against Seppi to advance.
“I feel confident (with) my game,” Chardy said.
“After I lose the first set I say, ‘Okay, I don’t play very good today; I have to play more relaxed because I was nervous.”
The Frenchman is also managing to ignore a sore knee, saying, “If I have pain everywhere in my body, doesn’t matter, I have to play and try to find the solution to win. So I forgot my pain and I just be strong in my head.”
As many players do, Chardy worked on priming his game, physically and mentally, for 2013 during the December offseason.
Aligned with the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy, Chardy’s primary coach is Kerei Abakar. During the recent off-season, Chardy was part of the Mouratoglou training camp party that ventured to the tropical setting of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa.
Mauritius might sound like a locale that was more suited to a vacation, but for Chardy and the others in attendance it was primarily hard work. And that toil is serving him well in Melbourne.
“He's been working hard, physically and mentally, to get to this stage,” Abakar said of Chardy.
“He believes in himself like he never did before. Now he's able to have a ‘Plan B’ in his game and that makes a huge difference. The pre-season was really helpful to work on specific points in his game.”
While in Mauritius, Chardy mixed it up with 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who started training with Mouratoglou after her shocking Roland Garros first round loss last May.
“She’s a very nice person,” Chardy said.
“I speak a lot outside the court with her. I practicing once with her. I think she’s a big champion. I hope she will win the tournament.
“No, I didn’t play a set (with Serena). But we had a practice. Now I understand why she won very easy many matches.”
Chardy will be hoping that the December efforts pay off in his next match. The Frenchman will get to tangle with reigning US Open champion and Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray.
He’s squared off against Murray on five previous occasions, and trails 1-4 in those meetings. Nevertheless, Chardy did win their last match 6-4 6-4 in the round-of-16 at the 2012 Cincinnati tournament last August.
“I win already against him, so it’s good for the confidence when you go on court,” Chardy said.
“Last year I play a perfect match against him.”