Thursday, January 30, 2014

DAVIS CUP: Egypt all set for Moldova clash

Photo supplied by Mohamed Safwat. 
From left to right: Mazen Osama, Mohamed Safwat, Captain Khaled Baligh, Sherif Sabry, Karim Hossam, Karim Mohamed Maamoun

Egyptian duo Mohamed Safwat and Karim Hossam are optimistic ahead of this weekend’s Europe/Africa Group II Davis Cup tie against Moldova in Chisinau.

Egypt have fielded a strong team, headlined by their top two singles players Safwat and Hossam, ranked 203 and 339 respectively. The pair will feature in Friday’s singles rubbers with Safwat opening the tie against world No335 Maxim Dubarenco before Hossam takes on world No167 Radu Albot.

Safwat has an 11-5 record for Egypt in Davis Cup and is coming off a stellar season where he picked up an ITF-record nine Futures titles.

“It’s a very close tie,” Safwat told Game, Set, Match Egypt.

“The level of the players is almost the same, we’re all around the same ranking. Moldova have the home advantage for sure and they had great results last year but on the other hand our team this year is different than other years - four players in the top 500.

“We can play in fast or slow courts - doesn't matter for us. Tomorrow (Friday) I think is the most important day in the tie. We are neutral, not very relaxed and not very nervous and we prepared really well for the tie and we have our chances,” added the 23-year-old from Mansoura.

Hossam, a 19-year-old who rose from 1168 to 338 in the rankings last season, will be playing a Davis Cup singles rubber for the first time in his career. He won all three doubles rubbers he contested in last year’s campaign.

“I feel good,” said Hossam. “I’m playing well and the courts here are not so fast, close to clay. So I think we’ll play good matches.”

Egypt’s No3 player, Sherif Sabry, ranked No430 in the world, is scheduled to play doubles alongside Safwat on Saturday, but team captain Khaled Baligh can choose to field a different pairing, depending on tomorrow’s results.

World No509, Mazen Osama, 18, is the fourth player on the team.

The action kicks off on Friday at 14:00 local time (also 14:00 Cairo time).

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