Photo credit: Sayed Omar
Safwat showed no mercy against his opponent, an 18-year-old Qatari wildcard, Jabor Mutawa, and wrapped up the win in 41 minutes.
When I asked him of his reaction when he saw the draw and knew had a big chance of making the second round, Safwat said he was finding it hard to believe that he was in the main draw to begin with.
The Egyptian has been predominantly playing on the Futures circuit with a few appearances in Challengers but is yet to make that extra push to compete on the ATP World Tour. He is currently ranked 456 but thanks to his win over Mutawa, is expected to break the top-400 again, after peaking at 365 six months ago.
“This is my first match of the year, I hadn’t played in two months. I stopped after the African Championships in November in Senegal, and I haven’t played since. So to do this in my first tournament, in my first match is great," Safwat told me after his first round win.
“Since we left Egypt, I was telling my coach (Mohamed Nabil) that I had the feeling that I wasn’t really in the main draw. I told him I won’t relax until I see my name in the draw with my own eyes. I was finding it hard to believe.
“It wasn’t about tennis pressure, but more of mental pressure. I’m expecting myself to win this match and I know I have a very big chance of winning it and it’s the first match of the year, and there were many things I changed during my preseason and many aspects of my game I want to try out. So thankfully things turned out the way I wanted them to."
Safwat had a turbulent 2012 where he relocated from Alicante to Cairo after feeling he wasn't getting the right coaching in Spain. He also suffered some health problems with his eyes and teeth towards the end of the season, but he believes he has turned a new leaf and says he had a great preseason training with Mohamed Nabil at Wadi Degla Club, who are his main sponsor. He still needs more funding though in order to have a fuller calendar and can afford to pay his coaches travel expenses.
“2012 was such a tough year for me, with so many problems I’ve had to overcome. But the way 2013 has started, this is definitely a good omen," Safwat added.