Flashy Frenchman Jeremy Chardy targets a second win over World No. 8 Marin Cilic this season when the pair clash in the second round of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday.
Fifth seed Marin Cilic hasn’t really got going so far in 2017 and things won’t get any easier as he launches his European clay court campaign on Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters against dangerous wildcard Jeremy Chardy. Cilic has only won five matches this season and is currently riding a three-match losing streak into this Monte Carlo encounter, dating back to a crushing loss against Rafael Nadal in Acapulco. Chardy hasn’t been much better, but he does have confidence from beating Cilic in Miami last month and remains capable of blowing most players off the court if he catches fire. It looms as a crucial match for both players as they strive to begin the European clay court season with a win. Cilic and Chardy take to court around 12.30pm local time on Wednesday (11.30am BST).
Cilic continues to remain as one of the more unpredictable players on tour - at least towards the upper echelons of the rankings. The Croatian experienced a marvellous end to the 2016 season, winning his first Masters 1000 title at Cincinnati and his first ATP 500 event at the Swiss Indoors in Basel, along with semi-final finishes at Tokyo and the Paris Masters, results which propelled him into the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London and saw him finish the year at a career-high ranking of No. 6 in the world.
All signs pointed towards Cilic going even higher to begin 2017, but that hasn’t been the case at all. The highest-ranked player Cilic has beaten was erratic No. 42 Benoit Paire in Rotterdam, while his next best was the equally as unreliable No. 60 Alexandr Dolgopolov in Acapulco. Cilic’s only other wins for 2017 were two victories over Borna Coric in Rotterdam and Acapulco, along with a battling five set triumph over No. 273 Jerzy Janowicz at the Australian Open.
Among Cilic’s losses so far this season include No. 136 Taylor Fritz in Indian Wells, No. 84 Dustin Brown in Montpellier, No. 117 Jozef Kovalik in India, No. 51 Dan Evans at the Australian Open, and No. 77 Jeremy Chardy in Miami - his opponent on Wednesday in Monte Carlo. With all this in mind, it’s no secret that Cilic is struggling significantly at present, and considering clay has traditionally been his least successful surface in the past, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better for the 28-year-old any time soon.
Jeremy Chardy (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Which means that Chardy will be eying off another ‘upset’ over the current World No. 8.
But nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the Frenchman is in any sort of form himself. Chardy has been in a downward spiral for quite a while now, with his best results last year being four quarter-finals at ATP 250 events in Doha, Sydney, Delray Beach and Umag. Three of those events came over the first two months of 2016, meaning Chardy only won made one quarter-final during the last 10 months of last season.
Chardy registered an underwhelming 17-21 record for the year, seeing his ranking drop from 31 at the start of the season to 69. The 30-year-old has made a couple of quarter-finals to begin 2017 - again at ATP 250 events in Auckland and Montpellier - but apart from his win over Cilic (which isn’t really that impressive considering the Croat’s poor form), Chardy hasn’t really defeated anyone of note this season on tour.
However there are some small signs that point towards Chardy enjoying a lift in form over the clay court season. He posted two solid straight sets wins over Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund on clay to send France into the Davis Cup semi-finals over Great Britain, while he stretched eventual finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber to three sets in the second round of Casablanca. Chardy then conquered eventual Casablanca champion Borna Coric in three sets to reach the second round of Monte Carlo on Tuesday.
As mentioned, Chardy beat Cilic last month and also owns a win over the former US Open champion on clay - back in 2009 in Munich. Cheered on by the home support, I think Chardy starts this match as favourite. If he can find a balance in his powerful game, he should have too much firepower for Cilic, who has been letting himself self-destruct in most matches this season. Chardy just needs to remain calm - which I admit is far from guaranteed - but he takes better form and confidence into this match and should translate that into another win.