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Aqeel to miss opening day’s singles in Davis Cup tie against Austria & More Latest News Here


ISLAMABAD: Aqeel Khan will miss the opening day’s singles of a Davis Cup tie for the second time during his illustrious 22-year career as Mohammad Shoaib and Muzammil Murtaza are drawn to play the opening day matches against Austrian top pick at Sportland Arena in Tulln an der Donau — a town adjacent to Vienna.

The draw ceremony held Thursday, a day ahead of the World Group I Davis Cup tie between Pakistan and Austria, will see Shoaib taking on Jurij Rodionov in the opening singles today (Friday) followed by the match between Filip Masonic and Muzammil Murtaza.

“Yes, for the second time during my over 22 years Davis Cup career I will not be playing the opening day’s singles for my country. The only time I missed out on the singles previously was in 2012-13 when I sat out in favor of Samir Iftikhar and Abid Ali on the hard courts in New Zealand. Otherwise, I always played opening day’s singles.

“Here again, I have to sit out as playing captain Aisamul Haq suggested that two youngsters Shoaib and Muzammil are better suited to these heavy conditions. It is the rainy season here in Austria with the atmosphere and playing conditions getting even heavier following the rains. So there is every chance that we may see lengthy matches on an opening day. Secondly, we have to play doubles for which we want to stay fit and ready. I along with Aisam will be seen in action in doubles tomorrow (Saturday) morning,” Aqeel said while talking to ‘The News’ from Austria.

When questioned as to whether he could still play the reverse singles, after the doubles, Aqeel said it depends on the outcome of the opening day’s singles and later the doubles.

“It all depends on the performance of two youngsters and Pakistan’s chances following the first three matches. If we feel my playing the reverse singles could anyway help the team, I may go on to play the singles otherwise I think the same pattern will be followed.”

Talking about the form of two youngsters – Shoaib and Muzammil, Aqeel said the both were seen playing some exciting tennis.

“They look in form but keep in mind that we are playing against a team that has got some quality top-ranked players. Moreover, Austria are playing at home with a better understanding of the conditions. They are used to playing here and it would never be easier to unsettle their tempo. However, I am hopeful that if Shoaib succeeds in giving his best and goes on to win the opening singles, Pakistan will be having better chances of springing the surprise.”

On Saturday morning both Aqeel and Aisam will be playing against Alexander Erler and Lucas Midler in doubles while Shoaib and Muzammil are to play the reverse singles. However, teams have the option to change the reverse singles combination just an hour before the start of matches.

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