Egypt will compete against Slovenia on home soil in the Davis Cup starting on Friday, according to a press conference held on Thursday at the Gezira Sporting Club in Cairo.
The supervisor and tournament referee of the International Tennis Federation, Massimo Morelli, said there would be a few changes to the format.
“The tie will be only on two days not three days, and the second day of the tie will be the double match and two single matches,” he said.
The results are no longer the result of the best of five sets but the best of three sets, including the double, he said. “We choose who will play with advantage. The winning team will have one play-off in the year 2020 in the new World Group I.”
The Egypt team’s technical director, Mustafa Naim, said: “Our team has reached a high level of professionalism. The preparation period was a very intensive training period before the African championships, and it resumed after they returned.”
“The Slovenian team is a good team,” he added. “No one can predict the results. Always there are a lot of surprises in court.”
“The last few years, our team was able to keep their place in Group II. Last year, the team won all their matches except the last match. We were ambitious to get promoted to Group I.”
The Egyptian team includes players Mohamed Safwat, Karim Maamoun, Sherif Sabri and Amr El-Sayed.
Safwat spoke about his busy schedule. “I was competing the whole year for different world championships. My private training was with Austrian coach Gilbert Schaller.”
“When I participated with the Egyptian team in different championships it is always under the supervision of Egyptian coach Mustafa Naim.”
Safwat arrived in Cairo on Monday.
“I started training with the team on Tuesday. I feel like I am in good shape.”
El-Sayed is the team’s youngest player at 22 and is making his first appearance in the Davis Cup.
“El-Sayed is a promising talent. He has achieved good results on the national level on the last six months,” said Naim. “We prepared him to compete on the international level.”
Safwat is ranked 239 in the Association of Tennis Professionals’ (ATP) singles ranking, Maamoun 361, and Sabri 1609. In doubles ranking, El-Sayed is 1123.
The Slovenian team includes players Aljaz Bedene, Blaz Rola Nik Razborsek,Tomas Lipovesk Puches and Tom Kocevar-Desman. Bedene ranks 75 in singles, Rola ranked 113 Razborsek 511, Puches 642 and Desman 712.
The head coach of Slovenia’s team, Miha Mlakar, said; “We arrived in Cairo on Monday. We started practice from Monday to Friday two times a day to get used to traditions and the heat.”
“The practice was quite good. The team are well-prepared for tomorrow. The best players are Bedene and Rola.”
Slovenia have played in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I, except three years ago when they slipped to Group II. In 2018, Slovenia defeated Turkey 3-2 in Europe/Africa Zone Group II on home soil in Portoroz.
Mlakar commented: “This year our goal is to get back to Group I.”
The matches will take place from 13-14 September at El-Gezira Sporting Club in Cairo.
The opening ceremony will be on Friday morning. The matches will start 11:30am. In the singles, Maamoun will play against Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene and Safwat will compete against Blaz Rola.
On Saturday, the matches will start in the morning at 9:30am. The day will begin with a double match between Safwat and Sabri against Slovenia players Bedene and Rola. It will be followed by two single matches, the first featuring Safwat against Bedene, and the second with Maamoun playing Rola.
Egypt's history in the Davis Cup
Egypt first competed in the Davis Cup in 1929, and the country’s best performance was reaching the Europe/Africa Zone Group I semi-finals in 1982 and 1985.
In 2018, in the opening round, Egypt beat Norway 4-0 in the first round of the Europe /Africa Zone Group II. In the second one, Egypt won over Denmark 3-1. In the final, Egypt remained in the Europe/Africa Zone Group II after losing 3-2 to Finland.
Safwat described it as “the best result in 15 years, to reach the final round of Group II.”
“We always lose in the first or second matches and go down to Group III,” he noted.
In 2017, Egypt won the four matches in the first round in the Europe /Africa Zone Group III. In the first round in Europe /Africa Zone Group III, Egypt beat Benin 2-0, then Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Nigeria 3-0.
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