ISLAMABAD - Top seed Aqeel Khan added yet another feather to his already decorated cap by beating second seed Shahzad Khan in the 1st Benazir Bhutto (Shaheed) National Ranking Tennis Championship 2015 final played here at Islamabad Tennis Complex.
It was a very boring final keeping in mind, Aqeel had always displayed quality tennis, but he looked completely off-colour and not even close to his usual best. It seemed pressure of his wedding was distracting him, which allowed Shahzad too much room and freedom. Aqeel started the first set on a very low, his wayward serves and casual approach were more than a blessing for bulky Shahzad, who normally doesn’t enjoy such freedom for the country’s longest serving No 1 player. Aqeel was committing a lot of unforced errors while double faults were also witnessed in almost every game.
Long volleys and backline game always suited to Shahzad’s type of play, as he is too bulky and can’t move freely when it comes to facing drop shots and passing shots. It was quite strange for the pack-to-capacity crowd, who had turned up in full force on local holiday and was expecting quality tennis, but majority of them looked bored and remained busy in whispering about such a dull game.
When the score was 4-4, Aqeel finally realized that he had to change gears, if he really wanted to stand chance of avoiding upset defeat, so he started playing some aggressive tennis and took the next two games and this won the first set 6-4 in almost 45 minutes.
The second set was almost identical to the first one, as Aqeel was not pushing hard and allowing Shahzad to play counter aggressive game. Aqeel managed to hold onto his serve in the first game after surviving three game points. Shahzad also held his serve to make it 1-1. Aqeel then again held his serve and then broke Shahzad’s eight game to make it 5-3 and then held his serve to take the set 6-3, thus registered highly-unconvincing victory in one hour and 20 minutes.
Salim Saifullah Khan/Mehboob Khan lifted 60 plus doubles title after defeating Fazal-e-Subhan/Rashid Khan in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-3.
Aqeel was awarded cash prize of Rs 95,000 and winning shield while Shahzad Khan received Rs 50,000, Sarah Mehboob received Rs 40,000 cash and winning shield, while Sara Mansoor pocketed Rs 25,000 cash and runner-up shield.
It was quite shocking that neither Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who was announced to as chief guest of the final, nor a single prominent PPP leader graced the final as chief guest. Even District PPP leadership also skipped the finals, with only exception of Senator Taj Haider, who was always available at the venue from throughout the championship, while Senator Farhatullah Babar, also visited twice and was present on the final. None of the other PPP leadership or even common PPP worker bothered to grace the final, which was especially conducted to pay tribute to their leader Benazir Bhutto (Shaheed).
Speaking on the occasion, Senator Taj Haider tried to cover the absence of Sindh CM and other notable PPP leaders and promised to conduct the 2nd edition in a befitting manner in which players of South Asian would also participate. It was promised that federal capital roads would be filled with BB Shaheed’s banners, but not a single banner regarding the event was witnessed in the entire capital, with only exception of 2 or 3 medium size banners installed at the venue and that too only on the finals.
PTF president Salim Saifullah Khan was the chief guest on the occasion. Aqeel Khan termed the victory a good omen for his wedding, which would be held today (Sunday) and hoped his wife would prove very lucky for him. He termed court was too fast, which didn’t suit his style of play, while it was highly beneficial for Shahzad.