Jan 012018

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has finalised a four-member team to take on a powerful South Korea side in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group I opening round tie on February 2-3 here at the grass courts of the Pakistan Sports Complex.

PTF President Salim Saifullah Khan in a chat with ‘The News’ said that a four-member team was finalised once two contenders backed out of the trials. The Pakistan team for the South Korea tie will be headed by Aisamul Haq Qureshi and includes Aqeel Khan, Mohammad Abid Ali Akbar and Muzammil Murtaza.

The top two aspirants — Shahzad Khan and Abid Mushtaq — backed out of the selection trials. “As usual, two ace players Aisamul Haq and Aqeel are automatic selections for the Davis Cup team. Rest of the four — Abid Ali, Muzammil, Shahzad and Abid Mushtaq — were supposed to compete in trials. Since the two opted out of trials, Abid Ali and Muzammil will fill the remaining spots,” Saifullah said.

The tie will be held at the same grass courts of Pakistan Sports Complex where Pakistan won the Group II final against Thailand. The ITF has already given all clear to Pakistan’s choice of courts.

This time around the Davis Cup would be of three-set match instead of five that has been the tradition in the past.“I think it is good news for Aisam and Aqeel. The two are best suited to three-set matches. We hope to get best out of them in the tie,” Saifullah added.

In yet another development, the PTF has also announced appointing Hameedul Haq as the non-playing captain of the team for the tie against South Korea.“Hameed is the best choice at the moment as he has been training youngsters in the past and has got enough experience to look after Pakistan campaign against Korea,” president PTF said.

He also hinted at appointing one more official with the team in due course. “That option is available with us.”Meanwhile, the training camp to prepare Pakistan team for the tie is expected to start at the grass courts from January 15. “South Korea are very powerful opponents as the country has the players amongst the top hundred in the world. Proper training and efforts are required to prepare a unit for the tie.

“I am hopeful that the three back-to-back Futures events Pakistan organised in December 2017 would help players prepare for the tie,” the PTF president said.Pakistan are trailing 2-5 against South Korea in overall Davis Cup ties held between the two countries.

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