When Safwat wasn’t even ready!

A lucky loser to get into French Open, he knew it just 30 minutes before his match.

Mohamed Safwat is set to take on India's Sasi Kumar Mukund in the third round of the Chennai Open Challenger.   -  K. V. Srinivasan

An interesting story in the world of tennis last year was when India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran missed an opportunity to make his debut at the French Open despite getting in as a lucky loser since he had entered into another tournament in Italy by then.

The Indian was the eighth lucky loser to get into the main draw but the seventh one who got in, too, has an equally interesting tale.

READ | Sasi Kumar punishes Fanselow's errors to make third round

Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat couldn’t have been happier when Victor Troicki pulled out of the match against Grigor Dimitrov and handed Safwat his Grand Slam debut, though it was not the player he expected to pull out. Unfortunately for the Egyptian, he came to know about it only 30 minutes before the match.

Safwat is here at the ATP Chennai Open Challenger where he won his second-round match on Tuesday.

“Yeah, it was tough, was about 25 minutes. There was a rumour that (Nick) Kyrgios would pull out. And I was just there to sign-in. I had a warm-up but had no clothes, had nothing ready.

“Because Troicki was there and I saw him the night before and he was warming up I guess. Even Dimitrov knew about it only 20 minutes before,” said Safwat, recalling his Grand Slam debut.

Incidentally, it was Kyrgios’ pull out that handed Prajnesh his chance but instead, Argentina’s Marco Trungotelli was the beneficiary, making a 10-hour drive from Barcelona to Paris that had the tennis fans hooked whether he would reach on time to take on Bernard Tomic.

Speaking about the match against Dimitrov, Safwat said, “It was very quick. I needed to adapt quickly but it took me a while, a set and 1-4, to get used to. After the medical time-out, I cooled down and it was better.”

On Tuesday, he had no such issues despite landing in the city only early on Monday after playing in a Challenger event there and posted a straight-sets win over Italian Andrea Pellegrino. He will take on Sasi Kumar Mukund in the third round.

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