KARACHI: Aisamul Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan helped Pakistan take a 2-0 lead against Iran in the Asia-Oceania Group II on the opening day of their round one tie at the Pakistan Sports Complex on Friday.
Pakistan were holding a Davis Cup tie at home after 12 years and the players ensured they welcomed the sport back in emphatic fashion.
Aqeel took on Iran’s second seed Shahin Khaledan in the opener and needed a tie-breaker to claim the first set.
From there on in though there was no respite as Aqeel showed just why he is one the finest players in the country, winning the next two sets to claim a straight sets 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-2 win in two hours and 11 minutes to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead.
Aisam then cemented the advantage with another fine performance, defeating Iran’s top seed Anoosha Shahgholi 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 as the second match also finished in just three sets.
“We were a little nervous,” Aqeel admitted, while talking to The Express Tribune. “There is more pressure when you’re playing at home but we made sure we didn’t freeze under it. We are both experienced players so we handled it. It was good to finally win at home.”
Similarly, Aisam also said he felt nervous before the match. “I was really nervous; the fans want you to play well, and I’m not a singles player anymore,” said Aisam.
“In fact I had a very nervous start to the game too but I had a game plan in my head. I kept the points really short and focused on executing that plan. Aqeel’s win in the first rubber also helped since it took some pressure off me.”
Aisam said he is hoping Pakistan secure the tie on day two at the doubles rubber where Abid Ali Akbar and Muhammad Abid Mushtaq are set to play Alborz Akhavan and Hamid Reza Nadaf.
However, the team’s non-playing captain Rashid Malik can change his mind during the players’ meeting.
“We can win the tie with the doubles,” said Aisam. “It’s just one more match for us to move into the next round. If our captain feels that Aqeel and I should go, then we will. We’ll have a meeting in the morning and decide.”
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