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Who is Pierre-Hugues Herbert? Novak Djokovic faces wildcard in French Open first round

Novak Djokovic opens his French Open campaign against home wild card Pierre Hugues Herbert on Tuesday.

The number one seed is a three-time champion at Roland Garros but has endured a frustrating 2024 so far and is yet to win a title this season.

Djokovic, 37, says he therefore has “low expectations and high hopes” as he targets a 25th Grand Slam ahead of a busy summer which also includes Wimbledon and the Olympics in Paris.

“Anything but a title for me is not satisfactory, it always has been like that,” Djokovic added. “I know it might sound arrogant, but I have the career that backs it up.

“In the Grand Slams I normally play the best tennis, at least I aim always to play the best tennis, and I was able to do that for most of my career, so that’s the goal.

“I have been saying for quite a while that in terms of clay I want to peak here in Paris, in Roland Garros."

Yet who is Hugues-Herbert, the man who takes on Djokovic on Tuesday evening under the Philippe-Chatrier lights?

The 33-year-old is something of a doubles specialist on the ATP Tour, having won every single Grand Slam in men’s doubles.

He has won at his home major twice – in 2018 and 2021 – while also claiming one title at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. All five major victories came alongside veteran compatriot Nicolas Mahut.

However, Herbert is not playing in the men’s doubles at Roland Garros this year, though is playing mixed doubles with Fiona Ferro.

Novak Djokovic is a three-time winner at the French Open (Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic is a three-time winner at the French Open (Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert is his first round opponent this year (Getty Images)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert is his first round opponent this year (Getty Images)

In singles, the 33-year-old has achieved a career-best ranking of 36, though has not won an ATP Tour title, losing in four finals.

The last of those came three years ago in Marseille, while he has also never reached the second week of a Grand Slam, losing in the third round twice at Roland Garros.

Now he is ranked 142 in the world (hence the wild card) and has not won a singles match on the main tour this year.

The pair have only met once previously – indoors at the Paris Masters 11 years ago – with Djokovic winning in straight-sets on that occasion.

The winner will face either Spanish player Roberto Carballes Baena or French 32-year-old Constant Lestienne in round two.