WELLINGTON, July 9 Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi kept Pakistan level with New Zealand in their Asia/Oceania Group II Davis Cup semi-final on Friday when he won a dramatic second singles that went to 15-13 in the fifth set.
It took the veteran Aisam four hours and 36 minutes to beat New Zealand novice Michael Venus 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 15-13 with the final set occupying nearly half their time on court.
New Zealand won the opening singles when Rubin Statham beat Pakistan number two Aqeel Khan 6-4, 6-0, 6-0 and appeared destined to go two up until Venus was broken when serving for the match at 5-2 in the fifth set against Qureshi.
Aisam and Aqeel are scheduled to play Venus and Marcus Daniell in the doubles on Saturday although teams are allowed to change their combinations prior to the match which New Zealand believe could be to their advantage.
“We have options for the doubles they don't,” New Zealand team captain Marcel Vos said.
“Qureshi is their strength in doubles but he will be tired.”
The Davis Cup tie is being played on indoor courts in the North Island town of Hawera after being shifted from Pakistan due to ongoing security concerns.
New Zealand 1 Pakistan 1
Singles Rubin Statham (NZL) bt Aqeel Khan (PAK) 6-4, 6-0, 6-0; Aisam Qureshi (PAK) bt Michael Venus 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 15-13.—AFP