Uzbek players praise PTF for best facilities and hospitality


ISLAMABAD-Pakistan Davis Cup non-playing captain M Khalid says his team has fair chances against mighty Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I as they will utilise home conditions to the best of their abilities.

Speaking at a press conference held here at Serena Hotel Tuesday, Khalid said: “We have blend of experience and youth, as Muzammil and Heera Ashiq forced their way into the national team through their hard work and extraordinary performances by winning the trial matches. Although Uzbeks are highly competitive and good at grass, even then we have the ever-reliable Aisam and Aqeel, who are capable of carrying the day for Pakistan.

“Both Aisam and Aqeel are enjoying good form. We are fortunate enough to have Aqeel recovered in time for the highly crucial encounter, as without him, it would be very tough for Pakistan to stand even outside chance of doing well in the tie. Aisam is a class act, but he alone couldn’t do well against mighty opponents. Shahzad is also experienced campaigner and playing good tennis, but Aqeel Khan makes huge difference,” the non-playing captain added.

Pakistan tennis ace Aisam Qureshi said Uzbeks are very strong but Pakistan is once again highly underdog in the tie. “Nobody is ready to even give us outside chances of winning against Uzbeks, but we will play our natural game and eager to win the crucial tie. We have best chance of winning the doubles. They have a good player in shape of Denis Istomin, but he can only play three matches, while I took three days, as I was not feeling well, I joined camp on Sunday last and now we are training together.

“Grass is our favourite surface and hopefully, Aqeel and I will be able to provide good start to Pakistan. I ensured to take time out from my very busy international schedule and make myself available for the Davis Cup. Let me assure all that we always play for pride of the country and this time too, we will do our best to help our country win the tie,” he added.

He said although Uzbeks are very good on grass, but home advantage and crowd would make huge difference. “We are fighters and like we did against mighty Koreans, we are ready to do the same against Uzbeks. The grass courts are in excellent shape and credit must be given to PTF for taking very good care.

“Heera and Muzammil are upcoming players, while Shahzad is very good when it comes to serves. I feel we have a competitive team and we will go all-out attacking and put them under pressure to carve out victories. I don’t know for how long we can play for Pakistan, but as long as we have power in our legs, we will continue to play and win for our beloved country,” he added.  Pakistan’s longest serving No 1 player Aqeel Khan, who is not fully fit yet he is representing the country against mighty Uzbekistan, said he was not playing for last 40 days or so but the recent event in Lahore provided him much-needed practice for Davis Cup title. “Luckily, I won the Lahore event and which boosted my morale and I am keen to deliver for my country.

“Uzbeks are tough, but very much beatable and we will play our natural game and try to carry the day and live another day. It is my great wish to see Pakistan playing in World Group. Now at the twilight of my career, it will be perfect send off and no one can think beyond that,” Aqeel concluded.

Sharing his views Uzbekistan No 1 Denis Istomin said he has a very good team and they are just aiming to win the tie. “We are banking on our strength while the conditions are almost similar. As far as my personal game is concerned, I am as good as on any other surface while my teammates are also quite good. I feel both teams are balanced, but we have relatively young team and we are playing at international level for quite some time, so we have good chances against hosts.”

Istomin also praised Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) for excellent arrangements, very good accommodation and quality food. “We have no security issue as we are mainly staying at hotel, but for the last three days, we are also practising at the courts. It will be tough battle and we are here to win.”



ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Uzbekistan players pose for photos during the press conference ahead of their crucial Davis Cup tie.–Staff photos