Tennis: Egypt team optimistic despite defeat in Davis Cup

Ghada Abdel-Kader, Sunday 16 Sep 2018

Karim Maamoun
Karim Maamoun plays against Ruusuvuori at El-Gezira Sporting Club

Egypt has failed to reach Europe/Africa Zone Group I in Davis Cup after losing 3-2 to Finland on Saturday in the final game that was held in Cairo on 14-15 September but the coach and players believe they have something to build on for next year’s contest.

“We have to be optimistic that next year we can win and earn promotion to Group I. I am so proud of the whole team. Their results have been good so far this year, whether in the Davis cup or on the individual level," Egypt’s technical manager Mostafa Naim told Ahram Online.

Playing at Cairo's El-Gezira sporting club, Egypt and Finland were tied 1-1 at the end of the first day as Egypt’s top seed Mohamed Safwat , world no 191, beat Emil Ruusuvuori (6-4, 7-6) while teammate Karim Maamoun lost to Harri Heliovaara (3-6, 4-6).

“All the sets were really hard but I was able to win the game at the end. It is the first time for me to play in the final round of Group II as I joined the Davis Cup team in 2008,” Safwat said after the game.

The 19-year old Ruusuvuori was ranked 4th in 2017 by the ITF (International Tennis Federation) as he reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and the semifinals of the U.S Open at the junior levels. He is currently the world no 391 in the senior singles ranking.

“Safwat has a big experience and is intelligent on the court. He managed to stick to our game plan in crucial moments during the games and saved 9 set points,” Naim explained.

Left to Right: Finnish players the legend Kontinen, Salminen with Egypt’s Sabri and Safwat.

On Saturday Safwat and teammate Sherif Sabry lost the doubles contest to Henri Kontinen and Patrik Niklas-Salminen (3-6, 4-6).

But then again Egypt managed to level the tie as Safwat beat Heliovaara 6-2, 6-4.

In an exciting decider, Maamoun lost to Ruusuvuori 1-6, 6-3,1-6, handing Finland an overall win and a qualification for Group I.

“Maamoun was physically tired and had a lot of pressure on him,” Safwat said.

“It was a bad luck for Maamoun this time. He got sick after the first set in his final match. He vomited three times and we are not quite sure what caused this in the first place. He will undergo several tests to determine the cause of his illness,” Naim explained.

Finnish player Ruusuvuori beat Maamoun in final single match last Saturday

The technical director hopes the team gets more financial backing in the upcoming period.

"We did not have a big financial support due to the limited budget of the Egyptian Tennis Federation. But we hope we will have a full support from the government so we would be able to qualify for the next Olympic Games," Naim added.

Safwat will travel on Monday evening to China to participate in the ATP and challenger championships. “I am now in the near end of season. I am working on improving my world ranking and gain more experience,” Safwat said.

Finnish delight

The Finnish team raises their flag after winning the tie.

Finland head coach Jarkko Nieminen said he was delighted that his team was able to win. He was also impressed by the organisation and hospitality.

“It is really great. We are very happy. Every match we played this year we won 3-2 even in decisive matches," he said.

“It was tight all the way and a tough tie. Heliovaara had a good match on Friday. Our players Kontinen and Salminen in the double match were also quite perfect. I was really happy for that."

Coming to Egypt for the first time, the Finnish team were impressed. “The people were very friendly and helpful. Everything was perfect. I would like to thank organizers of the event in Egypt,” Nieminen concluded.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)


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