ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's longest serving No 1 tennis player steered Pakistan to comfortable 3-1 victory over hosts Vietnam in the Davis Cup Oceania Group-II tie, as he beat Thien Nguyen Hoang in straight sets in the first reverse singles on Sunday.

Aqeel played well against Thien, who, despite having strong crowd-backing, failed to stop the Pakistani from imposing comfortable victory. Talking to The Nation from Vietnam, Aqeel said: “As I promised before departure that I would try to give everything to win the tie for the country, so as I did it now. Though earlier, there was a pressure due to Aisam’s absence, but his availability gave us strength and balanced the tie and with superb performances, we won the Davis Cup tie against Vietnam.”

“Hoang put up a very decent fight in the first set, but after tough resistance, I managed to take the first set 6-4 and was not in a mood to let Hoang off the hook and took the set 6-2 and the third with same margin 6-2 to ensure victory for Pakistan. We will return home on February 20,” Aqeel concluded.  Sharing his views, Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Dr Syed Kaleem Imam said: “I am very delighted with the way my boys played and I will definitely announce special bonuses for them and organise a grand reception in their honour.”  “Now it is our home tie against Philippines and we are already in negotiations with International Tennis Federation (ITF) to host the tie. If it is not possible then we will opt to play at neutral venue of Malaysia. The federation is cash-strapped and in need of immediate relief from Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). It is my humble request to multi-nationals and national institutes to lend a helping hand to the PTF as any financial assistance will benefit the federation and the players will completely focus on winning the tie to get promotion to the next group.”