ISLAMABAD - Pakistan carved out one of the most sensational and memorable victories in their Davis Cup history, as Aqeel and Aisam both managed to win their respective reverse singles on the third and final day of Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group-II tie against Philippines in Manila, to give Pakistan 3-2 triumph which was their first ever against the hosts.

Talking to The Nation on Sunday, Aqeel said: “I surge off shoulder injury and played with pain barrier. I had just one thing in my mind that was to win the match at any cost as defeat could end our hopes of staying alive in the tie because the fifth and final singles would have no impact on overall results. I was also very sure, if I managed to win the match, then it would be Aisam not Samir, who is going to play the deciding match.”

“I was supposed to play against Ruben Gonzales, but they replaced him with Johhny Arcilla. The match was decided in five hard-fought sets. Though I was twice down in the match yet I made comeback on both the occasions and stayed in the hunt,” he added.

Aqeel further said: “The first set started on high pace and both the opponent and I managed to hold onto to our respective serves till the eighth game. Johhny then managed to break the ninth game and then went on to hold his serve to take the first set 6-4. It was very painful as I was aware I had to win the second set. I started the set with a different frame of mind. My aggressive strategy paid off which troubled Johhny a lot as he unable to answer my powerful backhand shots down the line so I completely outclassed my opponent and took the second set 6-2.”

“The third set started in same fashion. My shoulder pain was at its peak and I had to cut the pace of my serve, as pain was too much to absolve. Johhny took full advantage of my slow serve and managed to take the third set 6-3, thus gained 2-1 lead. I knew that I had to set aside pain and had to serve with power and aggression, otherwise, it would be all over. I entered the fourth set with clear frame of mind and played aggressive game to take the set 6-3. This brought the match into fifth and deciding set,” he added.

“I had regained full confidence and I knew, now the balance had pretty much swung in my favour. I completely outclassed Johhny in all departments and was leading 5-1 in the last set, before Johhny decided to concede the set sighting injury. I won the match 3-2 which was a remarkable victory and one of the most memorable ones of my long career, as it helped my country to stay alive in the tie,” Aqeel asserted.

“I knew if I managed to win, Aisam would definitely play the last match, which would decide the outcome of the tie. As per expectations, it was Aisam who entered the second and last reverse singles instead of Samir Iftikhar. The moment Aisam decided to play the crunch match, it enhanced our chances of winning the tie. The people had written off Pakistan in the tie soon after losing the opening days both singles, but I believed we still had a chance and the same happened as we managed to prove our critics wrong by winning the crucial tie against Philippines,” he maintained.

“In the second reverse singles, Asiam was pitted against Patrick John Tierro, the guy who beat me in the first singles match. Patrick was no match to Aisam’s huge international experience. The Pakistan tennis ace used his experience and outclassed Patrick 6-2 in the first set without facing any resistance. Patrcik did try to show some aggression in the second set, but Aisam was not in a mood to let him off the hook and won the second set 6-3. The Philippian was in no mood to go down without a fight. With the local crowd full backing, the Philippian bounced back and took the third set 6-3,” Aqeel added.

“Aisam started the fourth set on aggressive note and fully focusing on his task, Asiam managed to take the set 6-4, thus inflicted one of the most sensational victories of Pakistan Davis Cup history,” he concluded.

Now Pakistan will take on Thailand for a place in the Group-I and if Pakistan manage to beat Thailand in Thailand, then we will once again be playing in the main Davis Cup ties.

Talking to this scribe, Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Dr Syed Kaleem Imam congratulated Aisam, Aqeel and captain M Khaild and others for pulling off most sensational victories against the odds. “The PTF always emphasises on sending the best possible team for the Davis Cup ties. We made special arrangements this time and being fully aware of the fact that we never beat Philippines before, we had arranged a number of tournaments and established training camp for Davis Cup preparations, Despite acute shortage of funds. I took the initiative and spent huge amount on Samir Iftikhar and brought him from US to strengthen the team.”

“This victory is more than enough for the big mouths, who do nothing but always ready to criticise the federation without any solid reason. I have only one dream and that is to take Pakistan tennis to new heights, on which I am working tirelessly,” he added.

He further announced to reward Davis Cup winning team and arrange a reception in their honour. He especially thanked Aisam, Aqeel and M Khalid for this superb triumph. “We retained Khaild due to his experience and he played a major role in the team’s victory,” Kaleem concluded.