LAHORE            -             Pakistan’s international tennis player Aisamul Haq Qureshi and longest serving No 1 player Aqeel Khan helped the country stun strong Slovenia 3-0 to win the World Group I play-offs played at Pakistan Sports Complex on Monday.

According to information made available here, in the first rubber, Aisam lost the first set 4-6 as a high quality of tennis was played all through opening set in which one break of serve cost him the first set. In the second set, both the players played well and matched fire-with-fire and it was 4-all, with both the players holding their serve. At that time, the Slovenian player complained of wet surface due to dew falling in the evening little before sunset. The referee inspected the ground and play was suspended at 5:30 pm and it was resumed next morning at 10:30 am.

Aisam was down a break at 4-5 and broke back to level the score at 5-5, taking the second set 7-5. The third and final set was without break till 6-6 and at this crucial stage, Aisam utilized his wide international experience and played tremendous tennis to win the match 7-6, giving Pakistan a vital 1-0 lead.

In the second match, Pakistan’s longest serving number one tennis player Aqeel Khan took time to settle as he lost the first set 0-6 without taking any game. Again, playing against No 1 Slovenian player, the second set saw a big improvent in Aqeel Khan’s game, displaying extraordinary ground strokes and net game to win the second set 7-6. Aqeel continued his good show in the third and final game, where he fought well till the end and played some splendid shots to win the set 6-4, thus provided Pakistan a 2-0 lead.

In the doubles, the experienced International players Aisam and Aqeel played superb tennis with long rallies and frequent interventions at the net and won in straight sets. The experienced Pakistan duo entered the doubles with aggressive approach and put their rivals under tremendous pressure to win the first set 6-3. The home side pair then faced tough resistance in the second set,  where they matched fire-with-fire till the end and it was 6-all. Aisam-Aqeel then changed their gears and won the second set 7-6 to clinch the tie 3-0. With this victory against Slovenia, Pakistan will now stay in Group I.

Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) President Salim Saifullah Khan congratulated the winning team and non-playing captain Mushaf Zia while he especially lauded the services of Aisam Qureshi and Aqeel Khan for the country and also appreciated non-playing captain Mushaf Zia for the impressive 3-0 victory against European tennis powerhouse, Slovenia. He hoped that Pakistan will not only stay in Group I but also try to further consildate Pakistan’s position at the highest level.

Jubilant Aisam Qureshi has said that it is a great achievement for Pakistan. “We always prefer to play for the pride of our country and we did again for our homeland. Aqeel Khan is an unsung hero of Pakistan, who has been serving the country for the last 20 years. He deserves to be rewarded with civilian award in sports. Hopefully, his services will be acknowledged and rewarded very soon.”