Tennis: Grigor Dimitrov too strong for Egyptian lucky loser Mohamed Safwat at French Open

Grigor Dimitrov returning a shot to Mohamed Safwat during their men's singles first round match at the French Open on May 27, 2018.
Grigor Dimitrov returning a shot to Mohamed Safwat during their men's singles first round match at the French Open on May 27, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Bulgarian fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov reached the French Open second round on Sunday (May 27) with a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) win over Egyptian lucky loser Mohamed Safwat.

Dimitrov, who has never got beyond the third round in Paris, had been expecting to face experienced Viktor Troicki.

However, just minutes before he was due to go on court, the Serb withdrew with a back injury, allowing world No. 182 Safwat to make his Grand Slam debut.

In the process, he became the first Egyptian since Tamer El Sawy at the 1996 US Open to feature in a major tennis event.

"I was warming up and my coach said, 'hey look' and we saw up on the board that I was playing a different opponent," said 27-year-old Dimitrov, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist.

"I didn't expect that."

Dimitrov took advantage of a nervous start in the first two sets by Safwat, who has won just one top-level match all year.

The Bulgarian was 3-0 up in the first and 4-0 in the second set to build a foundation for victory.

Safwat needed treatment for blisters on his right hand before putting up solid resistance in the third set before Dimitrov raced through the tie-breaker.

Dimitrov faces either Jared Donaldson of the United States or Chile's Nicolas Jarry for a place in the last 32.