ISLAMABAD - Wonder kid Ali Sahibzada went down fighting in the singles final against top seed M Husain Robel but clinched the doubles title partnering with Harris Rehan in Dhaka on Saturday.
Ali started the final as underdog against the local favourite and No 1 seed Robel who never allowed Ali any chance to settle down in the first set and took it 6-3. Ali started to settle down in the second set and played some lovely shots down the line using backhand to best of his advantage. He managed to hold onto his serves till the eighth game, but he failed to hold on to his serve when it matters most in the 10th game, thus handing over the title to the local hero Robal 6-4.
Ali took revenge his singles defeat by winning doubles title against Sadin and Farouk from the host nation, thrashing them 6-2 and 6-2. Ali pairing with Rehan took flying start and won the first set 6-2. The second set started in the same fashion as Ali and Rehan did not allow their opponents to bounce back and overwhelmed them to take the second set 6-2, thus won the doubles title.
Earlier in the doubles semifinals, Ali and Rehan beat pair of top seeds M Hussain Ruble and Kawsar Ali in three hard-fought sets. The Pakistani pair lost the first set on tie break. They took avenge the first set loss in style by taking the second set in a tie break but the match was decided in a super tie break. Ali and Rehan won the super tie break 10-5 to complete a remarkable turnaround and their first ever doubles title as a team.
Talking to The Nation, Jaleel Khan, coach of Ali and Rehan, said: “I am very delighted with the efforts of my boy’s although Ali lost the all important singles final but it is indeed a great achievement of reaching the final.
Ali and Rehan came out as victors in the doubles final which at one stage looked highly unlikely as first they had to overcome top seeds in the semifinals, then they had to face a vibrant crowd, who were backing their players, but hats off to my young guns who not only gave exceptional performance but also kept their morale high. I am sure they will continue performing well as a team and also strive hard to win singles titles.”–