McGee victory secures Ireland’s place in Davis Cup
Irish number one defeats Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat in straight sets
James McGee celebrates after winning his match against Egyptian number one Mohamed Safwat at Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club. Photograph: Inpho/Ryan Byrne
Ireland kept relegation at bay over the weekend at Castleknock Tennis Club when James McGee won his final reverse singles match against the higher ranked Egyptian number one Mohamed Safwat.
McGee’s three-set victory gave the home side an unassailable lead in the BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group II Davis Cup relegation play-off.
The final match fell Egypt’s way but was it was a dead rubber between Mazen Osama and Daniel Glancy as Ireland already had it in the bag 3-1. The final match score was 3-2, Ireland staying up.
The Irish team had gone into yesterday’s singles matches 2-1 ahead after success in the Saturday session, where Sam Barry and James McCluskey won their crucial doubles match to give Ireland an important advantage going into the final day’s play.
McGee did not have it all his own way, although he did beat the Egyptian in straight sets 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. Service games were regularly exchanged between the two players, with McGee breaking Safwat for 4-2 in the first set to set up a well placed advantage.
Although his opponent immediately broke back for 4-3 and brought the match to 5-5, McGee held serve for 6-5 before breaking serve in the final game for 7-5 and a one set lead.
It was Ireland that fell back a service break in the second set but McGee responded positively and levelled the set 3-3. Although he dropped serve again, the Irish number one came through strongly at the end and from 4-3 down levelled for 4-4 before breaking serve for the second set 6-4.
In the Davis Cup, like the Grand Slam events, matches are the best of five sets and although McGee had a marked advantage at 2-0 up, he was determined not to let his opponent into the set in the final stretch and shot to a 4-2 lead.
Safwat, ranked 181 in the world to McGee’s 231, earned just one more game in the match before McGee closed it out to keep Ireland’s position safe in their group.
Earlier in the weekend McGee got the home side off to a perfect start with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Karim Maamoun in the first day of singles. His win yesterday rounded off a successful weekend.