KARACHI: Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi helped Pakistan move into the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I after nine years after he won the crucial singles match in the final against Chinese Taipei at Ulusal Tenis Egitim Merkezi Tennis Club, Izmir, Turkey, on Sunday.
Aisam defeated J Hung 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final reveres singles to win this Group II final.
Aqeel Khan had been beaten by Chieh-Fu Wang 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-1, 3-6 in the first reverse singles earlier in the day.
“I did not want Aqeel to play on the third consecutive day but when Chinese Taipei did not field their number one player Aqeel insisted that he be given the chance. We did but that did not prove fruitful and Aqeel lost,” said non-playing captain Hameed-ul-Haq while talking to ‘The News’ from Izmir.
He added that Aqeel had played well and could have won. “Aqeel tried his best. Aisam said the way Aqeel fought was his inspiration behind this win,” added Hameed.
Commenting on Aisam’s win, the non-playing captain said Aisam played like he used to play eight years back. “It was wonderful to see him playing this way. He played very aggressive game and helped Pakistan record a great win,” said Hameed.
“We beat Chinese Taipei, who are an A class team and were relegated to Group II only last year. This proves that we can create stirs in the Group I next year,” added Hameed.
On the first day, Aqeel won the first opening singles but Samir Iftikar lost in the second singles.
Pakistan took lead by winning the doubles match on the second day.
Aisam’s father Ehtisham-ul-Haq commended his son’s performance. “For the first time Aisam was appointed as Pakistan’s playing captain and he proved his worth,” said Ehtisham.
He added that this was a big day in the tennis history of Pakistan. “We could have won this tie more easily if we had played it on grass courts. Now Group I is really difficult and the tennis authorities should prepare players for it,” added Ehtisham.
Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) secretary Khalid Rehmani said this win was a gift to the nation. “All is well that ends well. Our players really did an amazing job,” said Khalid.
He added that they did not care for the extra spending of Rs3 million for holding this tie at the neutral venue in Turkey. “If we had gone to Chinese Taipei our expenses would not have been more than Rs1 million.
But we decided against that and brought Chinese Taipei out of their comfort zone. “This win also silenced our critics who were predicting ‘a shameful defeat’ for Pakistan,” added Khalid.
He said the best player of Chinese Taipei did not play in this tie which helped Pakistan. “Now our task is to prepare our players for facing stronger teams in Group I and this is the reason three players of the team will stay in Turkey to play future events,” said Khalid.
He added that Aqeel, Samir, and Abid would stay in Turkey to play three ITF Futures. “This is part of our strategy as our players need grooming for better performance required in Group I. PTF has sponsored these players for the Futures,” added Khalid.
To a question about choosing less-favourable surface of hard courts for the tie, Khalid said they were looking for grass courts and that hard courts were their second priority. “Grass courts are our first choice but our players are equally good on hard courts. If we had gone for clay surface that would have put our players in problem,” reasoned Khalid.
Aisam will go to Paris to play ATP events, while Hameed-ul-Haq will return to Pakistan on the 24th.