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April 6, 2018

Grand Slam players to open Davis Cup tie

Sports

April 6, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie between Pakistan and Uzbekistan will have a star opening today (Friday) at the Pakistan Sports Complex grass court as two Grand Slam players, Aisamul Haq Qureshi and Denis Istomin, will be up against each other in the opening singles.

The second singles later in the day will see Pakistan No 1 Aqeel Khan playing Uzbek No 2 Sanjar Fayziev.Davis Cup tie referee Valery Lutkov (Russia), who conducted the draw ceremony Thursday in the presence of Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) President Salim Saifullah Khan and Uzbek Ambassador Furqat Sidikov, picked the visitors’ No 1 Istomin as the one to start proceedings against Pakistan No 2 Aisam.

He thanked the two international circuit players to be representing their Davis Cup teams.“Indeed, the two are well-known international players and hardly get spare time from the circuit commitments. Their presence in the Davis Cup tie shows their commitment for the game and for their respective countries.”

Lutkov said 133 countries were part of the Davis Cup this season. “Davis Cup is one of the most prestigious events with around 133 countries becoming part of it in 2018. Quality professional players feel proud to be competing in Davis Cup ties.”

Though Aisam quit playing singles long time back, he has always volunteered to play singles in Davis Cups. Last year, Istomin stunned the then No 1 Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open. “Davis Cup is a very tricky event. It is not necessary that your higher ranking makes you the favourite. Playing for the country in home conditions always gives you the edge,” Istomin said.

“Aisam has experience and quality and no one can take him easy while playing on grass in front of home crowd. I need to be consistent right from the word go.”Aisam also rated Istomin as one of the best players around. “He has a powerful game. I will try my best to give Pakistan a winning start. Obviously, the first singles will be crucial,” he said.

The surface at the Pakistan Sports Complex is likely to play slow as it has a balanced covering of grass. In that scenario, chances are that Pakistan players might find it hard to finish points and that would favour the super fit Uzbeks.

“My initial reaction is the same. The grass is too fine and delicate which does not suit the serve-and-volley game. I think the court should have been let open a month back. It has not been used and this makes the surface too smooth,” one of the Pakistan players said.

Aqeel prayed for Aisam’s success in the first singles which would obviously give him a big heart going into the second singles. “It is always good to go into an early lead. By that way your confidence level always goes high,” he said.

Aqeel, however, has the luxury of playing against a player who is ranked 378 in the world. The Pakistan No 1 has already beaten much better and higher ranked players on grass at home.Since the Davis Cup ties have been reduced to two days, doubles and reverse singles matches will be played on Saturday (tomorrow).

Aisam and Aqeel will be pitted against Sanjar Fayziev and Jurabek Karimov in the doubles. The reverse singles will see Aqeel playing Istomin and Aisam taking on Fayziev.