Tuesday 10 December 2019

Victory for McGee has Irish in mix

James McGee
James McGee

Paddy Hickey

THE Davis Cup relegation play-off clash between Ireland and Egypt remains delicately poised after the opening two singles contests were shared at the Castleknock Club.

In the opening match, James McGee romped to a 6-0 6-2 6-2 victory over Egypt No 2 Karim-Mohamed Maamoun in an hour and 55 minutes.

But in the second battle, the visitors levelled the issue when their No 1 player Mohamed Safwat edged Irish No 2 Sam Barry 3-6 7-5 7-5 7-6 (7/5) after three hours and 49 minutes.

After taking the opening set, Limerick man Barry fluffed a golden opportunity to take a two sets to love lead, allowing Safwat to recover from losing his opening two service games.

Meanwhile, in control from the start, McGee held serve to 30 in the opening game before breaking to 15 to move into a 2-0 lead.

The fifth game saw the home player save three break points before another break in the next resulted in McGee taking the opening set in 37 minutes.


In the second set, Maamoun broke McGee in the opening game only for the Irish player to pay back the compliment, breaking to love to level at 1-1 en route to taking a 4-1 lead.

At 5-2 down, the Egyptian held to love, but McGee wrapped up the second set, during which he unleashed four aces, dropping only one point in the next game.

The pattern of McGee's dominance was repeated in the third set, the home player breaking to 15 in the opening game before saving a break point en route to a 2-0 lead.

A further break by McGee followed in the fifth game, but at 5-1 on Maamoun's serve he managed to squander two match points. But after the seventh game went to deuce, the Castleknock man closed out the match.

"It was a much harder match than the scoreline suggests," said the Irish No 1 afterwards. "The last time I played him in the Davis Cup the match lasted four hours on clay in Egypt, so it was good to get it over a good deal quicker this time.

"The preparation during the week had gone very well and my game plan worked out very well for me.

"I think he was a bit nervous in the first set and that helped me to win it to love. As well, the court was in my favour and I was playing at my home club."

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