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Thursday February 29, 2024

Pakistan Davis Cup Tie: Both teams have equal chance: Slovenia captain

March 04, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Slovenia team’s non-playing captain Miha Mlakar has predicted both teams will be having equal chances of winning the two-day Davis Cup playoff tie starting at the Pakistan Sports Complex grass courts from March 6.

As the visiting team was going through their paces at the well-maintained grass courts, Mlakar while talking to ‘The News’ on Tuesday said that choice of the surface had made the chances fifty-fifty.

“Look, grass is a totally new surface for us. We are not used to playing at grass at all. You would not believe but it is a fact that we have just one grass surface back home. We have never trained there before coming to Pakistan. It is only here that we have started playing on the grass courts.

“Because of our lack of experience at grass courts, I think both teams now have equal chances of winning the forthcoming tie. Pakistanis are good at grass.”

Slovenia will be missing world No 61 Aljaz Bedene and world No 141 Blaz Rola for the competition. “Yes, a big loss. We would definitely be missing our two key players as they opted to stay away from the tie. Both are busy playing Indianapolis Open. Still I believe that the Davis Cup tie would be an equally contested as we are having players who can give a good fight.”

Mlakar though has never played Davis Cup for his country but has stayed as the Slovenia’s non-playing captain for almost four years now. “I have a lengthy association with the Slovenia team and have been looking after their coaching.”

Slovenia have defeated Turkey and Egypt on their way to earn a place in the playoff against Pakistan. “This is a very important tie for us as we have beaten the best on our way to make it to the playoff tie. Now we face Pakistan for a place in the Group I next season.”

He termed Pakistan team as a balanced one. “Host country is having the services of the best players who are well-equipped to play at grass courts. That is one of the reasons why I think odds are equal.” He, however, believed that outcome would largely be depending on the players’ performance on the given day.

“We have our strength and that is our players are very active and have been playing international circuit regularly, especially in singles. So we are having good chances but Pakistan have some experience in their ranks, especially on grass. So that experience may come handy.”

Slovenia squad: Andraz Bedene (ranked 840), Tom Kocevar Desman (784), Nik Rozborsek (609), Mike Urbanija (477), Tomas Maximiliano Lipovsek Puches (Former world No 250 also represented Argentina previously), Miha Mlakar (captain) and Tea Starc (official).