Samir, Aqeel keep Pakistan hopes alive in ITF Futures
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan pride Davis Cupper Samir Iftikhar and longest serving No 1 Aqeel Khan routed their Indian rivals to move into the next round of the Begum Kulsoom Saleem Saifullah ITF US$15,000 Futures Professional Championship here at senator Dilawar Abbass Tennis Complex on Wednesday.
Islamabad fans witnessed some great and exciting tennis and saw teammates of Pakistan first-ever historical Asia Oceana Davis Cup Group-2 heroes Samir and Aqeel, who overpowered the experienced Indian professional Jatin Dahiya, who has been on ITF Pro circuit since 2012 and ranked 1200th in 2014, and Paramveer Singh, currently ranked 1,545, respectively.
Samir thrashed India’s Jatin Dahiya 6-0, 6-0. Jatin had no answers of Samir’s powerful shots and hits and that’s why he couldn’t even score a single point against Pakistan’s international tennis star. Aqeel, on the other hand, faced some resistance before registering a hard-fought and well-deserving 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory against Paramveer Singh. Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan congratulated both the Pakistani players for keeping green flag high in the championship, where over 23 professionals have been participating.
Today’s (Thursday) pre-quarterfinal between Samir and Spain’s Pere Riba is expected to be clash of titans and chance for revenge for Samir against the experienced Spaniard. Samir had lost the tough battle last week in the quarterfinals and have to bring out everything in his sleeve to topple last week finalist Pere Riba, who overwhelmed Singapore’s Roy Hobbs 6-0, 6-1. Aqeel, who was crashed out from the previous event quite earlier but also managed to win his doubles title, will vie against Ivan Nedelko of Russia, who outclassed his compatriot Anton Chekhov 6-3, 6-4.
In other matches of the day, Julian Onken of Germany  defeated Pakistan’s Ahmed Chaudhry 7-6(5), 6-2, Luka Pavlovic of France trounced India’s Jayesh Pungliya 6-2, 6-1, Shalva Dzhanashiya of Russia  crushed Pakistan’s M Abid Ali Akbar 6-0, 6-0 and Kelsey Stevenson of Canada had to struggle hard to beat Pakistan’s Heera Ashiq 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-1.