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Pakistan, Slovenia reluctant to show their cards: Crucial Davis Cup tie begins tomorrow

By Abdul Mohi Shah
March 05, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Amid fears of inclement weather, opponents looked skeptical to share their strategy for the Davis Cup play-off tie with Slovenia camp even reluctant to disclose as who would be playing the opening singles on Friday.

As the two teams held official media talk at Serena Hotel Wednesday, Pakistan international Aisamul Haq hinted he might be seen playing singles on the opening day.

“When it comes to playing on grass, I always offer my services despite the fact that I no longer play singles at international circuit. But when it comes to playing for the country and if the team needs me, I always offer my services. Don’t get surprised if you see me playing opening day singles on Friday. The decision however will be taken following considering all aspects and in consultation with non-playing captain,” Aisam said. Aqeel Khan and Aisam have rendered unprecedented services for the nation in Davis Cup during around two decades now.

“Yes, we are ready for yet another challenge. This time it will be against Slovenia. They are here for the very first time and must be looking for a win but I believe when it comes to playing on the grass courts, Pakistan surely is amongst the best in Asia. I would not say that we are clear favourites, still Pakistan have got good chances when it comes to playing on grass,” Aisam said.

Pakistan team non-playing captain Mushaf Zia termed chances equal, saying Slovenia had services of some of top current and active players. “Playing on grass is our forte, yet I believe Slovenia are enjoying services of some of the best current and active players which makes the competition really tough and interesting. So, I believe weather permitting it will really be a closely contested affair.”

The former Davis Cup player Mushaf praised Aqeel Khan and Aisamul Haq services for the national tennis. “Every time we need them, they stand up to the task and spearhead our campaign in the Davis Cup and ultimately deliver what we need. It is because of the two that Pakistan have been enjoying a good long run among the top Asian Davis Cup playing teams.” Slovenia non-playing captain Miha Mlakar who spoke for his team and players said they were used to playing indoors back home.

“When it comes to indoor tennis, you hardly see grass courts. We are not used to playing on grass and only exposed our players the surface when we arrived here.” Mlakar refused to share two top players for the opening day tie. “We have not decided as yet as which two would be playing for Slovenia on the opening day. We haven’t decided as yet as which two top players would be there on the opening. Draws ceremony are set to be held on Thursday and by that time we would be in a position to decide.”

He played down missing world No 61 Aljaz Bedene and world No 141 Blaz Rola for the tie. “I think even without World No 61 and world No 161, we have the capacity to beat Pakistan. We have some of the best players with us who are equally good and hopefully they would be in a position to give Pakistan a really tough fight.”

Mlakar praised Pakistan people hospitality, saying he was feeling at home the moment he landed.