PARIS: World No.1 Novak Djokovic and nine-time winner Rafael Nadal racked up personal Grand Slam milestones at the French Open on Thursday (Friday in Manila) as Serena Williams coasted into the third round.
Top seed Djokovic, looking for a Roland Garros title to complete a career Grand Slam, claimed his 50th win at the tournament by seeing off Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
It was the Serb’s third win in three career meetings with Darcis, a player nicknamed ‘Shark’ who dumped Nadal out of Wimbledon in 2013.
But it was a far from a smooth display from the 11-time major winner and three-time French Open runner-up who committed 42 unforced errors.
“He plays with a lot of speed, is good from the baseline and it was not easy for me to play the points the way I wanted,” Djokovic said of 32-year-old Darcis.
“He has a lot of talent and it was tough. I am happy to have won in three sets.”
Djokovic next takes on Britain’s Slovenian-born Aljaz Bedene who reached the third round of a major for the first time with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-2 win over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
Nine-time champion Nadal became just the eighth man to record up 200 Grand Slam match wins as he saw off Argentina’s world number 99 — and fellow left-hander — Facundo Bagnis 6-3, 6-0, 6-3.
Nadal, 29, dropped the first two games against Bagnis but then won 18 of the next 22 to ease into a last-32 clash against Spanish compatriot Marcel Granollers.
“The most important thing is a victory in the second round more than the 200 victories,” said Nadal, who now has a 72-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros.
Roger Federer, missing from the French Open this year, tops the all-time list of Grand Slam matches won on 302.
Djokovic is sixth with 216 after his win on Thursday.
Top seed and defending women’s champion Williams cruised into the last 32 with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Teliana Pereira of Brazil.
It was a routine victory for the world number one that keeps her on course to win a 22nd Grand Slam title and equal the modern day record of 22 held by Steffi Graf.
“Today I played very well and I am happy to have won,” said Williams who fired 31 winners to just six for her outclassed opponent.
The 34-year-old American will next go up against France’s Kristina Mladenovic.
Venus Williams followed her sister on Court Suzanne Lenglen and beat 20-year-old compatriot Louisa Chirico, who came through qualifying, 6-2, 6-1.