Roland Garros crowd boosts Chardy to win over Berdych

Photo: Zee News


“Chardy! Chardy! Chardy!” grew the chants on Court Philippe Chatrier. No, this was not a Davis Cup tie between France and Czech Republic, it was a first-round encounter between Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and 20th-seeded Tomas Berdych.

Chardy, ranked No. 86 in the world, dug his grizzled claws into a match that by all rights was Berdych’s to win. Berdych let leads in two tiebreaks fizzle as Chardy mounted an inspired charge to take the first two sets—and the crowd had everything to do with it.

Berdych isn’t having the type of season he’d hoped. He entered his tussle with Chardy with a paltry 10-7 record on the season. But as one of the most consistent players in the world, and a second week veteran at Grand Slams, Chardy had to rise above his ranking and feed off the crowd to upset Berdych.

The drama was high in a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (8), 1-6, 5-7, 6-2 Chardy victory that took two days to complete.

“It’s also the first time I’m winning on the center court,” Chardy said. “It’s great to win in the French Open against a player like Berdych. He’s a great player, and you need to play well to win that kind of match. I played well today, and I’m happy.”

With all due respect to the Brits, Aussies and Americans, this was the kind of adoration for a home nation hero that makes the French Open about as close to a Davis Cup atmosphere as you can find. The French aren’t afraid to get rowdy. The famous, sometimes biased, atmosphere at Roland Garros has even brought players at the opposite end of the adoration to tears.

Yet, the French crowds aren’t strictly partisan. With the reception he gets year-in, year-out, you’d think Novak Djokovic was French. Alternately, a stoic, steady performer like Gilles Simon has never received much in the way of adoration from the home crowd. What gives?

It seems that, more than other Slam crowds, you get what you give with the French. They reward passion with passion, and anything less with indifference at best, hostility at worst.

During Chardy’s match with Berdych, there was plenty of passion to go around on Philippe Chatrier. When the crowd produces an atmosphere that rousing, you’ll take the good with the bad.

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