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September 19, 2017

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Our strategy for Davis Cup tie worked: Mushaf

ISLAMABAD: Davis Cup Asian Oceania Group II winning coach Mushaf Zia credited Pakistan’s victory against Thailand to the strategy that saw the team think-tank take a highly professional decision of holding back two ageing heroes in an attempt to go all out in reverse singles.

“Despite facing some criticism from non-professional quarters, we decided to rest both Aqeel Khan and Aisam-ul-Haq for reverse singles. Though the decision was tough, it was the only way to win against Thailand. We ultimately proved right,” coach Mushaf said.

He said it was wiser to take gamble on two matches rather than one. “Both Aqeel and Aisam had a good opening day singles. The two are already past 37 years of age and as such need careful handling. Thailand’s doubles pair was Asia’s best and as such there was all the possibility that they would take the doubles to five setter. There would have been no chance for Aqeel and Aisam to come back and play the reverse singles after playing such a tough doubles. We knew well that Aisam or Aqeel would go on to win one of the reverse singles matches to earn Group I spot for Pakistan if we kept them fresh for reverse singles. Our strategy worked. Those who were criticising our move should think about their understanding of tennis” Mushaf said.

He added that even Aisam was well-placed to win his reverse singles match. “He was set to take the fifth set but suffered cramps in the dying moments. Had he played the doubles on Saturday, he would not have been in a position to play the five-setter reverse singles. The same was the case with Aqeel who reserved his best for the fifth set and coolly won it against Thailand No 2,” he said.

The former Pakistan No 1 praised the fighting ability of Aqeel and Aisam, saying the two had been serving Pakistan tennis for almost 17 years now. “Though they still have some years ahead of them, the two have already played their role for Pakistan tennis. Pakistan tennis now needs a back up,” he added.

Mushaf, who played the longest ever Davis Cup match for Pakistan in mid eighties against a Korean opponent, said he and Hameed-ul-Haq were busy training youngsters at the National Tennis Academy (NTA) at Pakistan Tennis Complex.

“As former Pakistan players, we are making all efforts to groom youngsters to serve Pakistan tennis. Currently we have just two to look to when it comes to giving us results at the international level. We cannot expect any other to give us victories in Davis Cup Group II or Group I,” he added.

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