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Sports

February 4, 2018

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Aisam, Aqeel inspire Pakistan rout of South Korea

ISLAMABAD: The experienced duo of Aqeel Khan and Aisam-ul-Haq made the country proud by winning the all-important Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I tie against South Korea with yet another special performance in doubles at the Pakistan Sports Complex grass courts here on Saturday.

Following their dazzling performance in the opening day singles matches which put Pakistan ahead, Aisam and Aqeel returned on Saturday morning with the same resolve to beat the formidable Korean pair of Soon Woo Kwon and Yong-Kyu Lim 7-6 (8), 6-4 and seal the tie 3-0 before reverse singles.

The victory means Pakistan will now take on Uzbekistan in a World Group qualification tie also to be held here on April 6-7. Korea will now play New Zealand in an effort to stay alive in Group I.

The Koreans tried to put pressure on their hosts in the first set but failed to take the break point. Two more opportunities of break came their way but Aisam held his nerves to take the score to tie break. Pressure continued to take its toll on both the pairs. Aqeel had his chance but he double-faulted in an attempt to get the winner. At 8-8, Pakistan got a mini break which was enough to seal the first set.

The Pakistani pair survived two break points at the outset of the second set courtesy of some phenomenal display from Aisam. Both pairs held on to their serves till the score went 4-4.

Yong-Kyu Lim, who was getting the first taste of grass surface in Pakistan, was then seen coming under pressure on his serve as the Korean pair lost point after point to concede a break. At 5-4, Aisam faced little problem in retaining his own serve, enabling Pakistan to seal the tie to the jubilation of a large local crowd.

“It was a really tough contest since Aqeel was not hundred percent fit and ready as he was having arm muscle problem. He still played a huge role in Pakistan’s victory,” non-playing captain Hameed-ul-Haq said.

“I have hardly witnessed such a remarkable win for the country in the past. Aqeel and Aisam deserve credit for this incredible achievement. They have made the whole nation proud,” he added.

In reverse singles that turned out to be a mere formality, Abid Ali Akbar beat 16-year-old Minjong Park 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) to give Pakistan a 4-0 triumph.

Both teams’ non-playing captains then decided not to play the second reverse singles that ensured a clean sweep for Pakistan.

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