ISLAMABAD: Pakistan qualified for Group-I of the Davis Cup by beating Thailand 3-2 in the Asia-Oceania Group-II final played at the grass courts of the Pakistan Sports Complex here Sunday. Pakistan were 2-1 up at the end of day two but Aisamul Haq Qureshi had the tough task to begin the day, taking on Thailand’s top-seed Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul as the fourth rubber of the tie went on for five sets. Aisam lost the first two sets to Trongcharoenchaikul 7-5, 7-6, but took the next two sets to make it 2-2. But Trongcharoenchaikul kept his nerves to deny his opponent a memorable comeback in a marathon match that lasted for more than four hours. Later, Pakistan’s veteran tennis star Aqeel showed just why he is considered one of the best players in the country as he helped his country seal the win. Aqeel defeated Thailand’s Kittiphong Wachiramanowong 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2 in a marathon last reverse singles rubber that went on for more than three hours. The country’s most seasoned player had huge responsibility on his shoulders and was taking on a much younger opponent in Wachiramanowong in the last match of the tie. Aqeel began the rubber with confidence and seemed to be romping towards a victory – taking the first two sets 6-4, 6-3 – but age almost seemed to catch up to him in the next two sets as Wachiranmanowong went on to level the match with 6-3, 6-2 wins in the next two sets for Thailand. The fifth set was to be a battle of nerves and Aqeel showed just how prized experience is as he ran into a 4-0 lead that left his visiting opponent with little hope. The clinching set was won 6-2, with Aqeel claiming 15 aces and 142 points won in the game. Speaking at the end of the match, Aqeel told reporters: “I wanted Aisam to finish the final for Pakistan but I think it was written in my fate to do so.” Aisam congratulated the nation on the victory, adding that it had been a historic week for sports in Pakistan as Pakistan cricket team beat World XI in Lahore and “we won the Davis Cup final.” A delighted t Aqeel added: “I can’t believe it, I wouldn’t want to play this five-setter again. It was tough, it was demanding and the pressure was immense but I think I got through because of the crowd, because of my teammates.” Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah announced a cash prize of Rs.500,000 for the team. “Our players worked very hard and the PTF will do all-out efforts for promotion of tennis in the country,” he said. Published in Daily Times, September 18th 2017.