Davis Cup Tennis - Hong Kong treble for Pakistan, Aisam - Pakistan Today

Davis Cup Tennis – Hong Kong treble for Pakistan, Aisam

COMMENT – With Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi as usual leading the quartet, Pakistan recently went over to Hong Kong to take the hosts on in the first round of Asia Oceana Group II Davis Cup tie. Deprived of their home tie advantage due to security concerns, this was a tough assignment for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s record against Hong Kong in four previous outings was even – lost two, won two. In 1988 in an away fixture, Pakistan was whitewashed 0-5. In 1992 in Pakistan, the result was the same though we had fielded some outstanding talents of those days – Rasheed Malik, Hameed-ul-Haq and Mohammad Khalid.
In the third away tie in 2000, tennis prodigy Aisam had arrived, and Pakistan’s turned the tables on Hong Kong as he sailed through in his two singles also captured the doubles match partnering Ahmed Wahla – enough for a 3-2 lead despite Asim Shafik and Aqeel Khan losing their singles. In 2010 again the venue was shifted away due to security concerns, but Aisam’s repeat performance in winning two singles matches and securing the doubles together with Aqeel Khan meant an unassailable 3-1 lead, despite the latter losing his singles and the fifth game abandoned due to rain.
Again drawn against Hong Kong in the opener of 2011 Davis Cup campaign, Pakistan’s four were Aisam, Aqeel, Yasir Khan and the debutant Samir Iftikhar. The Victoria Park was the same but this time Hong Kong had made special efforts to counter Pakistan. Along with Davis Cup veteran Hiu Tung Yu, to bolster their side they brought in an American NCAA top performer Martin Syer, a South African doubles specialists Coennie Van Wyk and a Chinese origin American Jonatham Choo.
The opener was between Aisam and Hiu. Aisam lost the first set in the tie break 6-7(3) but looked clearly dominating the proceedings with his powerful serve and volley game. He won the second set 6-4 and was 5-2 up in the third when he unfortunately stretched his thigh muscle when chasing a far ball. With pain in the limb causing shift in the mental focus, Aisam’s lethal serve was affected. And the double impact was that this inspired Hiu to get a second wind. Though Aisam lost his next two service games but went on to win the third set in tie break.
He managed to set up a break advantage in the fourth set too but the pain did affect his instead of surrendering the match, he fought on valiantly but could not prevent Hiu from winning the fourth and fifth sets 7-5, 6-4. Being down 0-1 was a big blow but Aqeel rose to the occasion and displayed perhaps his life’s best tennis against Martin Sayer of HK and went on to win the match 7-5, 7-5, 6-4, thus leveling the tie to 1-1 by the day’s close.
In the doubles, Pakistan predictably fielded its most experienced and accomplished pair of Aisam and Aqeel against Jonatham Choo and Coennie Van Wyk of Hong Kong. Living up to their status, the Pakistani duo outperformed the Hong Kong pair in three straight sets. The power play and coordination by the Pakistanis was a treat to watch. It is sad and depressing that no Pakistani TV channel bothered to show such high quality tennis and remained exclusively committed to cricket.
With 2-1 up, the third day’s match between Aisam and Sayer had a huge significance with regard to the end result of the tie. Aisam though remained unfazed and in front of a large crowd of over 2,000 beat the Hong Kong No 1 with consummate ease, in three straight sets 7-6, 6-3, 7-6. This put Pakistan in the unassailable zone, with Aisam maintaining his winning record against Hong Kong in all three away ties in the last 11 years. Aisam’s Davis Cup record now stands at 48 wins, 18 losses – by far the best by any Pakistani.
Just two wins away from the 50 win mark, once Aisam gets there he would be in a very select group of outstanding Davis Cup performers. For his part, with win/loss record of 34 and 37, Aqeel stands at No 2 amongst the Pakistanis. Saeed Mir is distant third (26/14), Hameed-ul-Haq (24/19), Rasheed Malik (14/17), and Haroon Rahim (3/6), with Saeed Hai’s (0/5) record being the poorest. For the next tie, Pakistan again will travel in July to take on South Korea.



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