Rising star Chardy still craves movie fame
His tennis career has been on a dizzying ascent since he reached the final of the SA Open at Montecasino last year, but Jeremy Chardy has not forsaken his dream of becoming a movie star.
Meanwhile, however, the 22-year-old engaging tennis stylist with a big serve will be seeking an Oscar of a different kind when he returns to Montecasino early next month - hoping to do better than the defeat he suffered against fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final of last year's SA Open.
Chardy has been a loyal supporter of South African tennis for the past couple of years. He first played in the SA Open in East London two years ago, where he reached the semi-finals, and last year reached his first ATP tour-level final against Tsonga at Montecasino.
Five months later, after finishing as runner-up in the R25 million SA Open, the steadily improving Chardy claimed his first ATP World Tour title in the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.
But last year's world No 32could find it tougher this time round at Montecasino.
The world's 17th-ranked David Ferrer, whom Chardy beat in a dramatic semi-final at Montecasino last year, will also be back, while fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils, ranked the world's No 13, will be in the line-up as the likely top seed.
For all this, Chardy's rise up the rankings from No 73 to No 32 in less than 12 months is almost certain to see him start this year's tournament as the number three seed.
An article in the ATP's official publication describes Chardy as loyal, family-oriented and intent on keeping his feet on the ground.
When Chardy first went to the renowned French tennis academy in Pau about 10 years ago, seasoned coach Frederic Fontang gave the promising youngster a copy of Paulo Coelho's novel, The Alchemist. It's a tale about a shepherd boy who follows his dream to foreign lands only to discover the treasure he is seeking is waiting at home.
The book became a favourite of Chardy's, not only for sentimental reasons, but also for its many important messages.
"I gave him this book to read because the life of a tennis player is a lot of travel, you can win money, you can see a lot of good things," says Fontang. "But you need to know that the simple things in life are what really count in the end."
Chardy's own rise to prominence reflects this. The young Frenchman, who prizes loyalty and family above all else, has reached the upper echelon of the sport without abandoning his roots in the picturesque village of Boeil-Bezing in the south-west of France.
"It's very important for me. When I don't play, I need to go home to see my father, my mother, my grandfather. We are very close."
Chardy believes his big breakthrough came at Roland Garros in the French Open in 2008.
The Parisian crowd had a glimpse of Chardy back in 2006 when he defeated Swedish veteran Jonas Bjorkman in his grand slam debut, but they were unprepared for what was to come when he returned two years later.
After opening with a straight sets win over Portugal's Frederico Gil, the 145th-ranked wild card recipient - playing in just his sixth tour-level event - seemed on the verge of a second-round exit to world No 7 David Nalbandian. Down two sets, Chardy trailed 0-40 in the first game of the third set.
But with nothing to lose, Chardy found renewed courage. Regaining his composure, he erased the deficit, overcame cramp in the fourth set and recovered from an early service break in the fifth set, reeling off six straight games to claim his first victory over a Top 10 player.
"It was the best moment of my career," says Chardy. "After Roland Garros, my confidence grew. After I beat Nalbandian, I realised I could compete at the top level."
He has gone on to claim a place in the powerful French Davis Cup squad alongside players like Tsonga, Monfils and Gilles Simon. But he still dreams of becoming an actor.
"It's my dream," he says. "I love the cinema and the idea of portraying a wide range of personalities and emotions on the screen."
Published on the web by Pretoria News on January 6, 2010.
This doesn't open up though, so no need to try.
P.S. I just read the article Fran posted above this, so it seems this one is just recycling a lot of stuffs.
, but still, nice of them to have him on a newspaper. Maybe will bring him good luck in SA Open this year.