Tennis: After Salah heartbreak, Safwat gives Egypt boost at Roland Garros

AFP , Sunday 27 May 2018

Lucky man: Egypt's Mohamed Safwat in action on Sunday against Dimitrov (Photo: AFP)

Egypt's Mohamed Safwat was handed a shock last-minute entry into the French Open on Sunday and a clash against Bulgarian fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov on the showcase Court Philippe Chatrier.

The 27-year-old had lost in the final round of qualifying to Guido Andreozzi of Argentina but earned a spot in the main draw after Serbia's Viktor Troicki, who was expected to face Dimitrov, pulled out with a back injury.

Safwat, ranked 182 in the world, has never played a Grand Slam match and has won just one high-profile match in 2018 in the Davis Cup in February.

He is the first Egyptian to play at Roland Garros since Tamer El-Sawy in 1996.

Safwat, bringing a little good news to Egyptian sport after the injury suffered by footballer Mohamed Salah in Saturday's Champions League final, is one of seven lucky losers in the men's draw.

The Egyptian was facing a daunting challenge on Sunday against his fellow 27-year-old who was a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2014.

Safwat has banked just $40,000 this year and £350,000 in his career, both modest sums on the professional circuit.

Dimitrov already has over $1 million in 2018 and more than $15 million in his career.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal will also face a lucky loser in the first round on Monday after Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov pulled out with a wrist injury.

The 10-time champion will take on Italian lucky loser Simone Bolelli.

Bolelli, who was beaten in qualifying by Colombian Santiago Giraldo, has only won one set against Nadal in five previous meetings and is ranked a lowly 130.

Dolgopolov has been struggling with a wrist injury since the Australian Open and withdrew from the ATP event in Geneva earlier this week.

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