Tennis: Djokovic wary of 'shark' attack at French Open

Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun in their men's first round match at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open, on May 24, 2016.
Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun in their men's first round match at the Roland Garros 2016 French Tennis Open, on May 24, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - 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. He 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 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."

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 sharks!"

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, the fourth seed, will take on Argentina's Facundo Bagnis in the second round.

Defending women's champion Serena Williams continues her campaign to win a 22nd Major title and equal the record set by Steffi Graf.

The 34-year-old top seed faces world No. 81 Teliana Pereira of Brazil who has never got beyond the second round of a Grand Slam.