Roger Federer will look to continue his seemingly inexorable progress towards another Indian Wells title when he takes on Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the round of 16. Chardy, himself now a veteran in his 13th year as a professional, will surely have ambitions of his own with the chance at a first Masters 1000 quarterfinal since 2015 on the line for the 31-year-old. But who will come out on top?
Federer and Chardy have met four times over the course of their careers, with Federer leading the head-to-head three matches to one. Federer won their first match which came in Brisbane in 2014 in the semifinals, coming through a hard-fought battle to triumph 6-3 6-7 6-3. Chardy had his revenge later in the year, upsetting Federer at the Italian Open by rallying from a set down to win in three, defeating the Swiss in a final set tiebreak.
The pair met for a third time in 2014 at the Paris Masters in the round of 32. The match was a thriller, with Federer winning the first set on a tiebreak before Chardy hit back to level the match in another tiebreak. They were split by just a single break of serve in the decider, but it was Federer who got it, winning the match 7-6 6-7 6-4. Federer was rather more comfortable in their next meeting, crushing Chardy for the loss of just three games in Monte Carlo in 2015.
Path to the round of 16
Federer, the top seed in Indian Wells, received a bye into the second round, where he began against Federico Delbonis. The Argentine had won their only previous match in Hamburg five years previously, but Federer began brightly to win the first set six games to three. They were tied at two games apiece in the second set when rain interrupted proceedings, forcing the match to be abandoned for the day. When it resumed Delbonis played well, reaching a second set tiebreaker and holding a set point, but ultimately Federer had enough to get the job done in straight sets.
That set up a meeting with Filip Krajinovic, the 25th seed, who made the final last year at the Paris Masters. The Serbian, however, never looked liked making a second run to a Masters 1000 title match when he stepped on to court with Federer. The world #1 was at his imperious best as he swept aside Krajinovic’s challenge, breaking his opponents serve with ease whilst remaining unthreatened on his own. A 6-1 6-2 victory for Federer and a chastening experience for Krajinovic was the result.
Chardy commenced his Indian Wells campaign against his compatriot Julien Benneteau, defeating him 6-4 7-6, with the match settled in his favour by a 20-point long tiebreak. He backed that win up with an impressive victory over Fabio Fognini, recovering from losing the first set to win 4-6 7-6 6-4. That set up a match with another of his countrymen, 20th seed Adrian Mannarino. After splitting the opening two sets, Chardy ran away with the decider, winning it 6-1 to make the fourth round.
How do they match up?
The strengths in Federer’s game are well-known and rightly feared. His serve and forehand are excellent, with the Swiss able to paint lines with both with seeming ease. His backhand has also developed into a formidable weapon, thanks in part to the switch to a larger racquet face which allows him to hit through it with more confidence. He is also an excellent volleyer and regularly attacks the net. In short, his game has strengths in almost every department and few weaknesses.
Chardy possesses some firepower of his own, particularly off the forehand side. Chardy utilises a fairly extreme grip off that wing, and a large takeback, but is able to hit his forehand exceptionally hard and it is something Federer will have to be wary of. One problem Chardy can encounter fairly regularly, however, is hitting a large number of double faults, a problem exacerbated by an inconsistent ball toss. Double faults will be a luxury he is ill-able to afford against Federer.
It’s hard to see any outcome from this match other than a Federer win. Chardy ran him close in three of their four meetings, but whilst Federer’s still playing tennis of that quality, Chardy, now ranked world #100, is not. There are too many areas of his game that Federer can attack, and its hard to see how Chardy can retaliate effectively enough to win. Expect the Swiss to reach the quarterfinals in straight sets.
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