ISLAMABAD - Pakistan tennis ace Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and No 1 player Aqeel Khan provided Pakistan perfect start by giving the country 2-0 lead against Korea in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I tie after winning both the singles played here at Pakistan Sports Complex grass courts on Friday.

It was a treat to watch for the local spectators, as Aisam was down and out but he staged a remarkable comeback and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to give Pakistan 1-0 lead in royal battle against 21-year-old Soonwoo Kwon. The highlight of the day was a lively crowd, which was supporting not only Pakistani players but also the visitors. Aisam’s mother Nosheen Ihtsham was not only praying for her son, but also pushing him to carve out victory for the country. She never said ‘come on Aisam’, instead she kept on uttering ‘come on Pakistan’, which showed her love and sincerity for the country. Asiam’s sister, father and other relatives were also sitting amongst the spectators to cheer for the country.

Aisam started the first set on a high note, as he hit around 15 aces and stamped out his authority on Soonwoo, who was looking nervous and out of sorts. Aisam broke fourth game of Soonwoo to take the first set 6-1 in just 25 minutes.

Aisam was at his best, hitting winners, dictating terms and highly pumped up. After a very long time, Aisam was looking in such mood, but after playing so well in the first set, he was nowhere in the second set, where he was completely outclassed by his opponent. The Korean crowd was major factor behind Soonwoo’s comeback in the second set. Aisam was committing too many errors, as his first serve was wayward and was badly disturbed by the noise made by Korean crowd. Pakistan non-playing captain Hameed-ul-Haq time and again requested chair-umpire to stop them from making noise during rallies. Soonwoo broke the fourth and sixth games of Aisam to take the second set 6-1 in just 22 minutes.

After almost down and out, a pumped up Aisam started the third set in great style. He broke the second game of Soonwoo and then took 3-0 lead, but after that, he simply let his opponent off the hook, as Soonwoo broke his seventh game and then he was leading 40-15, but Aisam first leveled the game and then held on to his serve. After playing some quality tennis, both players held onto their serves to take the third set and match into tie-break.

According to new ITF rules, the matches are reduced to best-of-three, rather than best-of-five. Aisam was soon trailing 2-5, before it was almost end of the road for the tennis star of the country, as Soonwoo was serving 6-5 for the set and the match, but Aisam somehow took the point to make it 6-6 and then went onto win the next two points to take the set 7-6(8), thus registered an inspirational victory to give Pakistan 1-0 lead.

Soon after registering tremendous triumph, Aisam laid down the ground and thanked the Almighty and then rushed towards his mother, who hugged and congratulated him. It was pin drop silence in the Korean section of crowd, while Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah lauded Aisam and hoped he would continue to win laurels for the country.

In the second and last singles of the day, Pakistan’s longest serving No 1 Aqeel Khan was up against Seongchan Hong. Seongchan broke the second game of Aqeel, but joy was short-lived as Aqeel broke fourth game of his opponent, who then broke fifth game of Aqeel and took the first set 6-4 in 41 minutes.

Aqeel, a well-known warrior, once again carried the day for Pakistan, as he started the second set with new lease of life and was playing top class tennis from the baseline and his passing shots were a treat to watch for the crowd, who were right behind Aqeel. The Korean section of crowd was feeling the heat and was almost quiet. Aqeel once again failed to hold onto his second serve, but he never showed any sign of emotions nor his body language was down as he broke the third and seventh games of Seongchan to take the second set 7-5 in 52 minutes to level the match at 1-1.

The third and deciding set started with both players looking nervous and trying not to commit mistakes. Both the players managed to hold onto their respective serves till the 12th game. The pressure was too hot to handle for Seongchan, as awesome Aqeel, who was playing aggressive tennis, broke the 12th game to take the third set 7-5 in exactly one hour, thus gave Pakistan 2-0 lead. It was like a dream come true for the local fans, who, at one stage, were looking down and out, but the sensational comeback first from Aisam and then the ever-resilient Aqeel ensured the day belonged to the hosts.

Keeping in mind the dew factor, it was decided that the doubles match will start at 10:30am today (Saturday). Pakistan team will be announced prior to start of the match.