I am smitten. Plain and simple.
As I mentioned before, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy has been on my radar for a while now, and my trip to Indian Wells this past weekend has solidified his new status as one my favorite tennis players. I am by no means kicking my beloved duo of Marat Safin and Robby Ginepri to the curb. It's just that my PRO TENNIS LOVE sandwich has turned into a threesome or trinity if you will.
Here's how the rendezvous played out:
This was my first year going to i-Dub on the first Friday, and I'm so glad I did because I was able to catch Jeremy's first round match versus Victor Hanescu, which was the second match of the day scheduled on Court #5 (one of the smaller outer courts). Since Jeremy and Victor are not very famous yet, there wasn't much of a crowd at the match, and I was able to score a front row seat (right on top the baseline; practically on the court).
As soon as Jeremy started warming up right in front of me, I was DONE. The shaggy hair; the gypsy eyes; the lean yet toned physique; the slight resemblance to Robby Ginepri... I was so close to him that I could hear him exhale as he struck each ball and noticed his nervous tick of dragging his feet as he walked to the corner of the court between points. He won his first-round match (thankfully) in three sets. It wasn't a super-convincing win, but the kid's (he's only 22) definitely got talent. His serve is beautiful, and when he unleashes on a forehand, you can't figure out how all that power comes from such a slim guy.
I heartily clapped for Jeremy at the end of his match, unsure if I'd see him again but happy to have watched him play in person. I called Bill on my way to my host's home that night and told him of my new love. Of course, we thought it was hilarious that Jeremy's last name could also be pronounced SHARTY (after one of the funniest words ever coined = shart). Our friend, Amanda, then took it even further by singing it to the tune of Flo Rida's hit song "Low"; "Shorty got low, low, low..." Too funny and perfect!
But, I digress....
On Saturday, I was a little disappointed that Marat Safin's 2nd-round match wasn't in the order of play for the day, but I ended up seeing a whole bunch of great tennis. The Ljubicic vs. Ancic match that I was planning to settle in for during the late afternoon however only lasted 6 games when Ancic retired at 3-3.
BUT, perhaps Ancic's retirement was kismet because without a match to watch, I strolled over to the practice courts (as I liked to do every couple of hours between matches). AND lo and behold, Monsieur Chardy was there practicing with his coach. There were only about three other people watching him practice, so I knew my chances of getting a picture with him (or as Soph calls it "some face time") were good.
Not sure of when his practice would be over and not wanting to be a complete nerd/stalker, I strolled around the nearby area of his court instead of parking it right at the steps of his practice. To pass the time, I chatted with a fellow Chelsea fan; checked out some other pros practicing; and caught some of the Sania Mirza vs. Flavia Pennetta match (all the while keeping an eye on Jeremy's session). Almost an hour later as Jeremy and his entourage (well, just his coach and his girlfriend - both French FYI) were leaving the practice court, I somewhat confidently went up to him and asked for a picture with him. He obliged, and (after a millisecond of annoyance at having to be a fan photographer) his girlfriend kindly offered to take the picture for us.Of course, I dislike the way I look in the pic (I knew I should have worn my prom dress that day), and it doesn't do Jeremy justice. But, I'm happy to have it. SCORE!
If I had any doubts about whether I was going stay an extra night in the Desert and attend the tourney on Sunday, they disappeared as soon as I realized that I could see both Marat and Jeremy's second-round matches in one day. I bought yet another grounds pass and looked forward to another sun-filled day of tennis indulgence.
I arrived to the grounds on Sunday at 10am (the earliest I've ever been). Jeremy's match versus the popular American, Mardy Fish, was scheduled for 11am in Stadium 2. I settled into a seat in the first row of the general admission section (on the baseline again). I made some small talk with the other early-bird fans, who were all there to cheer on Fish. I told them that I was a Chardy fan, and some of them told me that they saw him play doubles on Friday night on center court.
Jeremy and his dubz partner, Gilles Simon, had taken on Fish and Andy Roddick on Friday night. Due to my dinner plans that night, I couldn't make it to Jeremy's doubles match (believe it or not). But, I was happy to hear that Jeremy was the best net player of the four in that match (even though the Frenchmen lost).
Anyway, Jeremy's match against Mardy was really exciting, and he played really well. I cheered my head off during the match, and Jeremy thankfully won it in 2 tie-break sets. And after the match, when Jeremy (as all match winners do) hit some autographed game balls into the stands, I CAUGHT ONE!
Well actually, the people a few rows above me spilled it, and it rolled right to me! I jumped up and down gleefully and waved at Jeremy's girlfriend who sort of recognized me from the day before. My fellow fans all thought it was apropos that I got one! Me too.
It was such a perfect way to cap off my weekend with Jeremy Chardy. Merci!
P.S. At post-time, I'm very sorry to report that Jeremy just lost his third-round match to David Ferrer tonight. Tres sad...