ISLAMABAD - Tennis ace Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi believes with hard work and extra efforts, Pakistan team can stage another upset victory against Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup semifinals to be held in Islamabad in April.

Talking to The Nation just before leaving for Sofia, Bulgaria and then to Rotterdam, Netherlands to play two events, Aisam said: “Beating Republic of Korea 4-0 in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I was highly unexpected for us and it also surprised many. We played out of our skin and Almighty rewarded us.

“The pressure of doing wonders for the country against Uzbekistan will again heavily rest on shoulders of Aqeel and I. Uzbeks are number two in Asia and they had bye in the first round. They are right at par with India and are tough nuts to crack. It depends now which team Uzbeks bring here. Denis Olegovich Istomin is among top 60 and had beaten former world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round of Australian Open and also won two ATP titles. It would be highly tough tie and we had to dig very deep to get favorable results,” he added.

Aisam said Aqeel and he had a very good meeting with PTF president Salim Saifullah Khan, who is very serious about the gap between them and other players. “Off course, there is a huge gap between Aqeel and I and other players, as they are lacking far behind and we can’t rely on them to get backing, which all the other major teams enjoy. One thing is quite sure that juniors and back up players have to work seriously, if they really want to play for the country and achieve results like we did for the country.

“I personally feel the PTF is quite serious and now it depends on government as they have to invest and take tennis seriously. We can’t sit back for another decade in hope of getting desired results. Both Aqeel and I are now almost 38, so pressure and age are taking their toll and the federation couldn’t expect us to play for another 4 or 5 years. It is my top priority to play for Pakistan and I always make myself available to represent Pakistan in Davis Cup, but realistically, now we don’t have much time left. Now the players have to take responsibility and raise the level of their games. We don’t have depth but we have some good junior players, who, if provided international exposure, can deliver for the country,” he added.

“We will do our best to play out our hearts to ensure doing well against Uzbeks. The trials for selection of remaining two players will be held next month and hopefully, we would have the best available team. Playing on grass courts gives us edge, but Uzbeks are also very good on grass, so we will try to live up to expectations, as victory means World Group and it is like a dream come true for Aqeel and me. We will try to give one last push before signing off in style,” Aisam concluded.

 

 

 

MOHSIN ALI