Aisam keeps Pakistan alive in Davis Cup tie

KARACHI: Pakistan tennis ace Aisam-ul-Haq kept Pakistan in the hunt to win their Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group II opener against Hong Kong with a convincing victory after his teammate Aqeel Khan had gone down in a marathon five-setter on Friday.

Aisam, Pakistanís most successful player in Davis Cup history, was in full flow in his singles encounter against Cheuk Wai Hui, beating him in straight sets.

But the day began badly for Pakistan when their number two player Aqeel Khan lost narrowly against Hiu-Tung Yu, the Hong Kong number one, at Victoria Park in Hong Kong.

Aqeel made a slow start to the match, allowing Hiu-Tung Yu to take the first two sets 6-4, 6-2. But just when it seemed that Hong Kong will go ahead in the best-of-five Asia-Oceania Zone tie comfortably, Aqeel bounced back with some solid returns to take the next two sets 6-3, 6-3.

But he ran out of steam in the final set which Yu won 6-3 to take the home team 1-0 ahead in the tie that will conclude on Sunday (tomorrow).

Pakistan bounced back from the setback when Aisam demolished Cheuk-Wai Hui with clinical precision. Aisam, one of Asiaís best tennis players, won the match 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 with an enviable ease to level the scores 1-1 at the end of the first dayís play.

He will return to action on Saturday (today) for the doubles match.

Pakistan were supposed to host the Davis Cup first round tie in Lahore but were forced to surrender their right to host it because of security concerns.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) decided to relocate the tie to Hong Kong.

Pakistan are hoping to win the match to stay in the hunt for a promotion to Group I for the next yearís Davis Cup competition.

If they beat Hong Kong, Pakistan will meet the winner of the New Zealand-Sri Lanka tie under progress in Colombo.

Results: Pakistan-Hong Kong 1-1; Hiu-Tung Yu (HK) bt Aqeel Khan (Pak) 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3; Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi (Pak) bt Cheuk-Wai Hui (HK) 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.