Tennis: Host Egypt faces Cyprus in Davis Cup

Ghada Abdel-Kader, Wednesday 2 Mar 2022

Egypt, which hosts the Europe/Africa Zone of Group II play-offs event of the Davis Cup, will compete against Cyprus at Cairo's El-Gezira Sporting Club on Friday.

Egyptian team
The national team will represent Egypt in Davis Cup. Photo by Ghada Abdel-Kader.

"The Egyptian tennis Federation (ETF) has short and long-term goals," the federation's vice-president Hassan El-Aroussy told Ahram Online.

"The short-term target is to win and remain in the Europe/Africa Zone of Group II. The long-term goal is securing our place in Group II to advance to Europe/Africa Zone of Group I."

El-Aroussy said Egypt's preparation plan began in December and included two phases, with ten players featuring in several tournaments before five were eventually chosen to represent the country at the Davis Cup.

The Egyptian team comprises of Mohamed Safwat, Karim Mohamed-Maamoun, Akram El-Sallaly, Amr El-Sayed and the 18-year-old Michael Sobhy, who is the youngest member.

Safwat is the highest-ranking Egyptian at the tournament as he lies 356th in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) singles ranking

He is followed by Maamoun (631), El-Sayed (1,244) and El-Sallaly (2,210).

"Tennis is an individual sport. I play alone the whole year but we work together as one team in the Davis Cup. It is a nice shift that I really enjoy," Safwat told a news conference with a smile.

"I have to be ready all the time … last year, I did not have a good chance. I missed a lot of tournaments. I could not travel for more than five months because of the coronavirus pandemic and visas problems.

"There are many travel restrictions because of the pandemic and war in Ukraine … there are constant changes in my calendar because some countries refused to give visas or some tournaments were cancelled at the last minute for any reason. There are circumstances that are beyond our control," he added.

Safwat said a COVID-19 infection had hampered his progress this year but that he was raring to go as he looks to feature in more tournaments.

Rashiqa Abu Shusha, the chairman of the ETF's medical committee, said the federation had taken all precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all participants.

"PCR tests will be carried out by all teams, players, staff, referees, officials and anyone operating in the tournament," he said.

"The body temperature of every spectator will be measured before they enter the court. We also apply high standards of COVID-19 hygiene and safety protocol in tennis courts, dining rooms and locker rooms."

The Cyprus team features Petros Chrysochos, Menelaos Efstathiou, Stylianos Christodoulou, Sergis Kyratzis and Eleftherios Neos. Chrysochos is the team's highest-ranked player in singles as he lies 486th.  

The Cyprus Davis Cup team. Photo by Ghada Abdel-Kader.

According to the nation rankings in regional groups III at the Davis Cup, Egypt is ranked 59th and Cyprus 79th.

"We know that Egypt's team is the favorite. Cyprus is going to do its best; we believe we have our chances," said Cyprus captain Demetris Herodotou.

Match schedule

The matches will take place from 4-5 March in the main tennis court at El-Gezira Sporting Club in Zamalek, Cairo.

Tickets, which range from 50 to 100 Egyptian pounds per day, are available at the ETF headquarter and El-Gezira Sporting Club. The ticket price for U14 tennis juniors is only ten Egyptian pounds.

On Friday, the matches will start at 11:30am. It will be two single matches and one double match. On Saturday, matches will begin at 10:00am. The day will begin with two doubles and one single match.

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 2021, Egypt advanced from Europe/Africa Zone Group III to Europe/Africa Zone Group II play-offs after defeating Mozambique 3-0.

In 2019, Egypt lost 3-1 against Solvenia in Europe/Africa Zone Group II. Both teams ended the first day's singles at 1-1 after Egypt's Karim Maamoun lost his match against Aljaz Bedene 5-7,1-4. His teammate Mohamed Safwat defeated Blaz Rola 6-4,1-6,7-6 in the second singles rubber.

In the double match, Bedene and Rola gave Solvenia a winning start when they defeated Egypt's Sherif Sabri and Mohamed Safwat 7-5,6-3. Bedene beat Safwat again 7-5,7-5 in the singles match.

It was the first time the tie was played in the new format of Davis cup.

In 2018, Egypt beat Norway 4-0 in the first round of the Europe /Africa Zone Group II. In the second round, Egypt defeated Denmark 3-1. In the final, Egypt remained in the Europe/Africa Zone Group II after losing 3-2 to Finland. 

Safwat said that reaching the final round of Group II was the "best result in 15 years."

"We always lose in the first or second matches and go down to Group III," he said.

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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