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Sports

September 18, 2017

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Pakistan reach Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I

ISLAMABAD: Aqeel Khan beat Thailand’s Kittiphong Wachiramanowong 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2 in the second reverse single match on Sunday to push Pakistan into Group I of Davis Cup Asia Oceania at the Pakistan Sports Complex.

The second reverse singles took an unprecedented hype following the Sunday morning first that saw body cramps overcoming international Aisamul Haq at the fag-end of the match. Aisam was beaten by Thai No 1 Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul 5-7, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3).

It was in 2015 that Pakistan last made it to the Group I following their win against Chinese Taipei in Turkey. It was all going well for Aqeel when he took two sets lead after breaking consistent Wachiramanowon thrice in the first set and once in the second.

However, the Thai No 2 came back strongly and snatched the next two sets from Aqeel courtesy powerful forehand drives. “Wachiramanowon suddenly changed his gear in the third and was playing brilliant tennis. His forehand drives and backhand chip were special,” said Aqeel. “However, I stayed in the hunt knowing well that any lean time would give me opportunity to bounce back and that happened in the fifth set which we played under the fading light,” he added. He was overwhelmed with the excitement that also saw his colleagues, including injured Aisam, hugging him in jubilation.

“Once I saw Aisam tumbling out of his singles following cramps, I gathered all my energy to win the day for Pakistan. It was a tough task as the Thai was playing brilliant tennis. However, I knew well I have a chance,” he added.

Aqeel praised his camp that included Mohammad Khalid, Mushaf Zia and Hameed-ul-Haq.“They rightly reserved us for the final day and decided not to expose us in the doubles. Had we played a four- or five-set match in the doubles, we would have been in no position to give our hundred percent on the last day,” Aqeel said.

Aqeel sent in 15 aces against five by his opponent.

Aqeel won 142 points against 135 by his opponent.

Earlier, Aisam started in lackluster fashion, losing the opening two sets and then fighting back to wrest the next two. When the match entered the fifth and final set, Aisam started having problems that ultimately resulted in his loss.

Aisam struck 19 aces against 26 landed by Trongcharoenchaikul. Pakistan team was awarded gold medals for winning the Group II and making it to the Group I next year.

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