Roger Federer is just one win away from retaining his world number one status after progressing to the quarter-finals at the BNP Paribas Open with a straight sets win over Jeremy Chardy on Wednesday.
The Swiss ace is currently 600-points ahead of world number two Rafael Nadal and needs to make the semi-finals in California to ensure he has an advantage over the Spaniard when the ATP rankings are revised Monday.
Federer came through in one hour and 22 minutes against the Frenchman, who beat 16th seed Fabio Fognini in the second round and 20th seed Adrian Mannarino in the third. The Swiss maestro will now face emerging youngster Hyeon Chung in the last eight.
The 36-year-old world number one had a perfect service game for only the fifth time in his career. He won 90 percent of his service points, including 100 percent of his first serve points (25/25). Federer can match his best start to a season if he overcomes Chung in the quarter-finals — he is currently 15-0 in 2018, and can equal his 16-0 from 2006 when he was 24-years-old.
“It’s been great… But, look, it’s a totally different year, many years after,” Federer said after the win, according to ATP’s official site. “Felt like I found my range, my rhythm early in the year… So many years I felt good actually in Australia already. I don’t know if it’s Australia per se or taking the benefits from the hard work I put in into the new season.”
“Then also Rotterdam was great. I was very happy that I was able to win the tournament there, not just get to the semis and get World No. 1. So that was nice. … And here now I’m relieved that I was able to win three matches already. Because in a big, tough draw like here at Indian Wells, you’re never quite sure what to expect. So I’m just happy I’m on a good run,” the 20-time Grand Slam winner added.
Federer has faced his quarter-final opponent once in his career — during the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Open when the latter retired midway through the second set after suffering from foot blisters.
However, Chung could prove to be Federer’s toughest opponent of the tournament yet with the South Korean having defeated number 12 seed Tomas Berdych on his way to the last eight. The 21-year-old also recorded wins over Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev this year.
Federer, who witnessed Chung’s injury during their Australian Open semi-final, was surprised the South Korean has made such a speedy return. The Swiss tennis legend also addressed talks of similarity between the rising star and Djokovic.
“I don’t know [Chung] enough to say I know him well personally,” Federer said, the Express reported. “He seems a nice guy, level-headed. … Similarity with Novak is the open stance forehand, not much else. But the footwork I can see why it can be similar.”
“I saw Chung’s blisters in Australia and it was not nice,” the Swiss ace added. “I am surprised he came back so soon.”