KARACHI: Aqeel Khan and Samir Iftikhar registered important wins on day one of the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group II semi-final as Pakistan led 2-0 against hosts Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Tennis Stadium in Jakarta.
Aqeel secured a 1-0 lead in the opening rubber of the day as he outplayed Aditya Hari Sasongko 3-1, losing the first set 6-2 to the Indonesia top seed.
“I was really bad in the first set,” Aqeel told The Express Tribune. “Made a few wrong decisions, but then I went with a different mind-set in the second and broke my opponent’s serve twice.”
Read: Aqeel Khan to lead the way in Davis Cup
Aqeel took the second set 6-3, and said that the third only became tougher as he was down 3-2 and 40-0 in the sixth game of the set. “I knew I had to level that third set 3-3 in order to survive, as after winning the third set I knew I can still push for a win.”
He finally took the third set 7-5 and sealed the win 6-0 in the fourth after playing for three-and-a-half hours.
The Karachi-based player, who was competing in Indonesia for the first time, said that playing against Sasongko was tougher due to windy conditions on the outdoor hardcourts.
“Playing a lefty is always a challenge but I feel that I won the match primarily because of my experience at the Davis Cup,” said Aqeel.
“Sasongka is 10 years my junior. He played well but I guess he couldn’t really utilise the home and crowd advantage.”
Aqeel recorded his 25th singles win in the Davis Cup, while Samir won his second match as he overcame David Agung Susanto 3-6, 6-7 (7/3), 6-4, 7-5, 6-0 despite dropping the opening two sets in the second singles rubber.
Read: We still have a chance without Aisam: PTF
According to coach and non-playing captain Hamidul Haq, Samir’s match was a tougher one for Pakistan.
Hamid added that Pakistan have a good chance to win the doubles rubber on Wednesday. “The doubles rubber is always a crucial one for us,” he said. “Abid Ali Akbar will pair up with Aqeel for the match and we’re hoping for a good result.”
On the other hand, Aqeel said that he is hardly feeling any pressure for the doubles rubber against Susanto and Sunu-Wahyu Trijati.
“We aren’t over-confident, but I know that we have the ability to wrap it up on day two,” said the 35-year-old.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.
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