It’s the nature of Grand Slam tennis: there are always a few unseeded players that the Top 32 are leery of in the opening rounds.
As Wimbledon nears, Jeremy Chardy has catapulted himself into the dangerous-floaters category after a torrid three-week stretch on grass, where he recorded seven main-draw wins and took the Challenger title in Surbiton, his first singles title in six years.
That’s 12 wins in all on the sleek surface, more than any other player on the ATP World Tour this year. In 2017, Chardy had 18 main draw victories for the whole season. The veteran Frenchman’s run in June has enabled him to crack the Top 50 this week for the first time in two years.
Chardy advances to Queen's Club semifinals:
Back in 2008, the notion that Chardy wouldn't go on to spend the bulk of his career firmly ensconced in the Top 25—or higher—was unlikely. Chardy reached the fourth round at that year's French Open as a wild card, and for his follow-up campaign in 2009, the 22-year-old advanced to his first final at the ATP hard court tournament in Johannesburg, South Africa. Chardy would go on to capture his maiden singles title at the Stuttgart Open on clay, back when it was among the most prestigious events on the surface after the French Open, Monte Carlo, Rome and Hamburg.
Compared with some of his compatriots, such as Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet—players near his age who were regularly challenging for titles—Chardy's coronation as a tournament champion came relatively late. It was expected, though, that once he did win, the finals, titles and higher ranking would follow.
Instead, the near opposite occurred: Rather than joining the ranks of contender, Chardy toiled for years on end with highlights coming few and far between.
There were some statement-making moments, all testaments to his talents. In 2013, Chardy had his best run at a major when he reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, which propelled him to his career-high No. 25 ranking. A year later, he defeated Roger Federer at the Masters 1000 event in Rome. He's also recorded victories over Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro over the years.
The role of injury can't be discounted in slowing Chardy's ascent, as he’s dealt with back issues the past couple of seasons, which kept him off the court for significant stretches.
Chardy falls to Djokovic in Queen's Club semis:
This season got off to an inauspicious start for Chardy as he fell in the first round of the Australian Open. It was at the Masters 1000 tournaments in the U.S., though, where signs of a turnaround came into shape. At Indian Wells, the Frenchman advanced to the round of 16, defeating Top 25 players Fabio Fognini and Adrian Mannarino along the way. He followed that up with another fourth-round finish in Miami, where he beat another compatriot Richard Gasquet and the world No. 4, Grigor Dimitrov.
As the tour turned to clay, Chardy’s best result was a semifinal appearance in Turkey. At the French Open, he upset No. 20 seed Tomas Berdych in five sets in the first round, then lost 9-7 in the fifth set to Pierre-Hugues Herbert in an all-French affair.
While the second week of the French Open was transpiring, Chardy turned his attention to the grass courts in Surbiton, England. After winning his first two matches in straight sets, he had to fight off a match point against Dennis Kudla in the quarterfinals. Advancing to the final, he defeated the young Australian Alex de Minaur in three sets for his first tournament triumph since capturing the Noumea Challenger in 2012.
In 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, Chardy stretched his win streak to nine matches before losing the final to Gasquet. It was a monumental run for the 31-year-old, his first championship appearance at the ATP World Tour level since that long-ago run in Stuttgart.
Following that up with a semifinal run in Queen’s, where he lost to Novak Djokovic in a tight two-setter, Chardy is where many thought he should have been for the bulk of his career—back in the Top 50. He isn’t playing this week at the tournaments in Eastbourne, England, or Antayla, Turkey, but he’s put in plenty of prep work for Wimbledon, where he’ll be considered a threat to many a seeded player. He’s reached the round of 16 there in his long career and won the boys’ title back in 2005.
Back then, Chardy's future prospects as a professional looked as promising as anyone in his age range, if not more so. While that path might not have gone as planned, the past few weeks have shown that Chardy is eager to make up for lost time.
A LANDMARK DOCUMENTARY DURING THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS EVENT IN SPORTS, CELEBRATING THE UNPARALLELED FEDERER-NADAL RIVALRY AND 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREATEST MATCH EVER PLAYED.
In association with All England Lawn & Tennis Club, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment and Amblin Television. Directed by Andrew Douglas.