French Open 2018: Grigor Dimitrov beats lucky loser Mohammed Safwat

Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov has won eight ATP titles but is searching for his first Grand Slam trophy
French Open 2018
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 27 May-10 June
Coverage: Daily live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

French Open lucky loser Mohamed Safwat said his late call-up was a "dream come true" as he became the first Egyptian man to play in a Grand Slam since 1996.

Safwat, 27, only got an hour's notice to face Grigor Dimitrov, after Serbia's Victor Troicki suffered a back injury.

He said he had "never set foot" on Court Philippe Chatrier before losing 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-1) to the fourth seed.

"I never thought I would have a chance to play against such a good player on Chatrier," said the world number 182.

"I had always seen it on television but never managed to have that experience, so it was enjoyable."

Safwat was given a rapturous reception by the crowd as he opened up the clay-court Grand Slam alongside Dimitrov, who said he only realised he was not playing Troicki about 20 minutes before the match - when the Serb wished him luck.

The Bulgarian was not affected too much, however, as Safwat quickly went a set and 4-1 down.

But after a medical timeout for treatment on blisters, he earned his first break of serve and also saved four break points in the third.

The Paris fans took Safwat to their hearts, encouraging him with loud vocal support throughout, chanting his name and groaning after every error from his racquet.

Both players received a standing ovation after Dimitrov clinched victory, sharing a warm hug at the net before Safwat exited to rapturous applause and waving to all sides of Chatrier.

Analysis

Egyptian journalist Reem Abulleil

It felt surreal to see an Egyptian player on one of the greatest courts in world tennis, especially Philippe Chatrier.

For us Egyptians, Roland Garros is always huge and has a very special place in our lives. Egypt mainly has clay courts and we grew up watching Roland Garros on TV, so we have a special connection.

For the people who love tennis, this is huge. I can already see the reaction online.

But football is above all else and the World Cup is two weeks away and everyone is praying for [Liverpool forward] Mohamed Salah to be ready after he was injured [in the Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid] last night.

Safwat might not get the attention he deserves because of that, but he will from those who are aware of him and those who love tennis.

Top Stories