Novak Djokovic to go ‘shark’ hunting in bid to seal place in French Open third round

World No 1 Novak Djokovic will go 'shark' hunting at the French Open on Thursday as he looks to seal a place in the last 32.

Novak Djokovic takes on Steve Darcis in the French Open second round. Michel Euler / AP Photo
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World No 1 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 defeated Rafael Nadal at 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,” Darcis said.

“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 doing.”

French Open Order of play: Nadal, Djokovic and Williams sisters all in action

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 said: “I like sharks!”

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 faces Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis, the 26-year-old world No 99 who also reached the second round on debut last year.

Reigning women’s champion Serena Williams continues her campaign to win a 22nd grand slam title and equal the record set by Steffi Graf.

Williams, 34, faces world No 81 Teliana Pereira of Brazil who has never got beyond the second round of a grand slam.

Venus Williams follows her sister on Court Suzanne Lenglen against American compatriot Louisa Chirico.

The 20-year-old Chirico, ranked No 78 in the world, came through qualifying and won her first match at 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.

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