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Grass courts, best-of-three format give Pakistan edge over S. Korea, says Aisam

February 01, 2018

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PAKISTAN’S ace tennis player Aisam-ul-Haq speaks at a press conference on Wednesday as Hameed, Aqeel and others look on.
PAKISTAN’S ace tennis player Aisam-ul-Haq speaks at a press conference on Wednesday as Hameed, Aqeel and others look on.

ISLAMABAD: Expressing his surprise over the decision of Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) to not include a fifth player in the Pakistan Davis Cup team for the tie against South Korea, ace player Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi on Wednesday said that the national team would play aggressive game against the opposition in the two-day contest.

The Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group-I tie between hosts Pakistan and South Korea will commence here at the grass courts of Pakistan Sports Complex from Friday.

Addressing a pre-tournament press conference, Aisam, non-playing captain Hameed-ul-Haq and other team members including Aqeel Khan, Abid Ali Akbar and Muzammil Murtaza said that they have done a lot of hard work for the South Korea clash and would do their best to win it.

Visiting captain Sik Kim says his team ready for hosts

Aisam, who recently played the men’s doubles quarter-final at the Australian Open, said that he has no idea why PTF did not add a fifth player in the squad.”Any of the talented junior players would have been given a chance to represent the country in this prestigious event,” he said.

Talking about Pakistan’s chances of winning the clash, he said that on paper the Korean team is better than Pakistan as all of their participating players have world rankings. “But we as hosts should take advantage of the grass courts as Pakistani players are better than the Koreans on this surface,” said Aisam.

He said that International Tennis Federation’s new rules for Davis Cup to reduce the match from best of five to best of three will also help the Pakistani squad.

Similar views were expressed by top national player Aqeel who said that he has been getting training for the last three weeks for the Korean tie. “We will try our best to win this contest and feel confident about it due to our sound preparations,” he said and added that Aisam’s international exposure will help Pakistan to do well.

He said that responsibility also lies on the junior players to prepare themselves to “replace us” for the Davis Cup ties in future.

Non playing captain Hameed-ul-Haq said that though the Koreans are better than the hosts on paper as one of their player is ranked world number 170, the Pakistan team could give them very tough time.

To a query, regarding the fifth player, he said that this question should be asked to PHF. “ But I do agree that a fifth player should have been given a chance such as juniors Yousaf Khan or Shoaib Khan.”

Later on, while speaking to Dawn, the legendary player said that hosts have the capability of the staging an upset. “ The combination of Aqeel and Aisam is bound to be threat for the Koreans,” said Hameed.

Meanwhile, the Korean team comprising Jae Sik Kim, Youngseok Kim, Minjong Park, Yongkyu Lim, Soonwoo Kwon and Seongchan Hong also expressed confidence about winning the tie.

Korean captain Sik Kim said that his team has done a lot of hard work for the Pakistan clash and he is hopeful of producing better results. “Pakistan team comprises experienced players and so are we, therefore we are expecting great matches,” he said.

He said that his team included talented young players who would be focussing on the singles.

Sik Kim hailed the security arrangements for the tournament and said that in Islamabad there is no security related issue. However, he admitted that his team did not have much experience of playing on the grass courts which gives some edge to the hosts.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2018