In just his second semifinal of the year, former world #1 Novak Djokovic takes on Jeremy Chardy of France, who was last week a defeated finalist in Rosmalen, for a place in the Queen’s Club final. For Djokovic a deep run at Queen’s would be the perfect springboard for an assault on the Wimbledon title, an event the Serbian has won three times in the past. But Chardy has plenty of quality and has scored some fine wins recently. Who will come out on top?
Djokovic and Chardy have met on ten occasions and it has not been a match up the Frenchman has enjoyed, having lost all ten meetings. Their first came in 2009 in the second round of the Australian Open with Djokovic winning in straight sets 7-6 6-1 6-3. They have met twice on grass, both times at Wimbledon, with Djokovic winning in the first round in 2011 6-4 6-1 6-1 and in 2013 in the third round 6-3 6-2 6-2. Their most recent meeting came in 2015 in the semifinals in Montreal with Djokovic winning in straight sets 6-4 6-4.
Path to the semifinals
Djokovic, who is playing at Queen’s Club for the first time since 2010, began his campaign with an impressive straight sets victory over John Millman. The Australian had no answer to Djokovic’s power and accuracy in a 6-2 6-1 win for the 12-time Slam champion. He backed that up by overcoming world #5 Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-1 for his first top ten win in over a year. He then recovered from a slow start to oust Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-1.
Chardy opened his tournament with a convincing 6-2 6-4 win against American Tim Smyczek. That set up a clash with Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who reached the quarterfinals at Queen’s last year but was beaten 7-6 6-3 by Chardy this year. The Frenchman then faced another young talent, Frances Tiafoe, who had been playing some good tennis. But Chardy’s experience told in a 6-4 6-4 win to send the world #61 into a second consecutive second semifinal.
How do they match up?
This match will likely be, for the most part, a battle between Chardy’s offence and Djokovic’s defence. The Frenchman possesses a huge forehand, and he will rely on it to do most of the damage to Djokovic. He generally hits it quite flat, which will make it even more effective on a grass court. But, although Djokovic’s defensive skills are not as sharp as they were when he was in his pomp, they have been improving and his movement so far this week has been excellent.
One problem area in Chardy’s game is his serve. His ball toss is often errant, particularly on his second serve, and that leads to him hitting more double faults than most. Against a returner as effective as Djokovic, he will likely need to go for more than he usually does when stepping to the line. Whilst that could be a pathway to victory for Chardy if he has a good serving day, if he doesn’t the match could turn into something of a rout.
There’s a reason Djokovic has beaten Chardy ten times on the bounce without losing a set. He has consistently had the measure of the man from Pau, and although Djokovic is perhaps not playing as well as he has done in the past, he should still have enough to get past Chardy. Djokovic will have too many avenues of attack for Chardy to cope with, whilst Djokovic’s defensive qualities should blunt Chardy’s own offensive moves. Djokovic in straight sets.