Paris - World number one Novak Djokovic
will go 'shark' hunting at the French Open on Thursday as he looks to seal a
place in the last 32.
Djokovic, seeking to take a step closer to
a first Roland Garros title and complete the career Grand Slam, faces Belgian
qualifier Steve Darcis whose nickname is 'The Shark'.
Darcis, 32, had to qualify for the
tournament but he does have Grand Slam pedigree having dumped Rafael Nadal out
of Wimbledon in 2013.
The Belgian veteran is also keen to cause a
shock and dedicate victory to former coach Julien Hoferlin who died of cancer
in April at the age of 49.
"I think about him every day, when I
train, before playing a match," said Darcis.
"It's not easy not easy not having him
on my side. It's not easy not being able to send him a message the day before
an important match.
"It's tough. But whether it's for my
family, my relatives, for him, I have to do my very best. That's what I'm
Djokovic, a three-time runner-up in the
last four years, eased through his first round with a straight sets win over
Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun.
He holds a 2-0 career advantage over Darcis
and when told he was to face Darcis again, he smilingly said: "I like
Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, the fourth
seed, was equally untroubled in his first round against big-serving Sam Groth,
dropping just three games.
He tackles Argentina's Facundo Bagnis, the
26-year-old world number 99 who also reached the second round on debut last
Defending women's champion Serena Williams
continues her campaign to win a 22nd Grand Slam title and equal the record set
by Steffi Graf.
The 34-year-old top seed faces world number
81 Teliana Pereira of Brazil who has never got beyond the second round of a
Venus Williams follows her sister on Court
Suzanne Lenglen against American compatriot Louisa Chirico.
The 20-year-old Chirico, ranked at 78 in
the world, came through qualifying and won her first match at the Grand Slam
level by beating fellow American Lauren Davis in the opening round.
Elsewhere, the 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic
faces Japan's Kurumi Nara while former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard of
Canada tackles eighth seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland.
Bacsinszky reached the semi-finals in Paris
last year having once taken a break from the sport to work in a hotel.