Saturday April 01, 2023

Pak team off to Lithuania, Aqeel to play singles

January 29, 2023

ISLAMABAD: As the Pakistan Davis Cup team has left for Lithuania, ace player Aqeel Khan has confirmed he will be playing singles along with youngster Mohammad Shoaib during the Davis Cup Group 1 Play Off tie to be held at the Indoor SEB Arena, Vilnius (Lithuania), on February 3-4.

Talking to 'The News' before leaving for Turkey on the way to Lithuania, Pakistan No 1 said that he had reconsidered his decision not to play singles in Davis Cup. “As the country needs my services due to Muzammil Murtaza’s absence, I have decided to reconsider my decision not to play the Davis Cup singles. I will be available to play singles during the forthcoming Davis Cup Play-Off tie against Lithuania. Now I will play singles along with Shoaib on the opening day of the Davis Cup on February 3.”

Aqeel said that even Aisamul Haq would be available. “In case we need Aisam for the reverse singles on the second day, he will be available. But on the opening day, we are going to play the singles.”

Besides Aqeel, Shoaib, Mohammad Abid and Bilal Asem also left for Turkey from Islamabad. Aisamul Haq, who is accompanying the team as playing captain, will join the team in Turkey traveling directly from Lahore.

Aisam only reached Lahore the other day after getting beaten in the third round of the Australian Open doubles. “On the second day, Aisam will be my partner for doubles,” said Aqeel.

Talking about the team’s chances, he said: “Look Lithuania has got some ranking international players including world no 171 Richard Berankis and they have always proved tough opponents at home. Pakistan beat them in Islamabad a couple of years back on grass but on GreenSet Cushion Flex, Indoor, things will be different.

They are playing at home and on the surface most suited to them. Indoor hard courts have always been a tough proposition against the European teams which are used to playing on such surfaces around the year. So I must say that Lithuania have a clear advantage going into the Play-Off tie. Lithuania have also some top-ranked players in the line-up in contrast to Pakistan which does not enjoy that luxury.”

Aqeel had been training with members of the Pakistan team in absence of Aisam at the PTF Complex for the last two weeks. “ We organised a training camp at the PTF Complex. We trained hard for the tie as our focus was to make maximum efforts to get in the best shape for the singles. Shoaib who was seen struggling especially in the national events final was made to realise the importance of attacking tennis.”