Easy sailing for top seed Aqeel Khan in Men singles semi-finals

PESHAWAR: Top seed Aqeel Khan recorded easy victory against his young rival Imran Shoukat in the first quarter-finals by reaching the semi-finals of 30th Chief of the Air Staff Khyber Open Tennis Championship being played here at PAF Officer Mess Courts on Wednesday.Aqeel Khan started his title last on grass-court by dispatching Imran Shoukat 6-0, 6-3 with precise shot-making display. Pakistan No. 1 playing tennis from his childhood hit forehand winners, exquisite drop shots and lobs on the run.“On a grass a good start for me after playing first round on the hard  court because of the rain,” Aqeel said. “I was able to do all the things I was hoping to and I was consistent; consistently dangerous, too,” he added.He outplayed Imran Shoukat from the start, breaking his serve to begin both sets and wrapping up the win in only 50 minutes. Imran’s dejected body language showed he knew it was all but over after only a few games, he had in the second set as he compelled to finish the first one without winning a single game.“Aqeel was clearly the overwhelming favorite for this tournament, even though I tried to manage my position but things settle down quite quickly,” Imran Shoukat said. Aqeel had Imran scampering helplessly around court with a mixture of shots that were beyond his reach.

“I managed to vary the game well and not make too many mistakes,” said Aqeel Khan. Aqeel broke Imran Shoukat twice in each set, saved the only break point he faced with an ace and sealed the victory with his fifth ace of the match to improve to 6-0 against him.Imran Shoukat was unable to get a single game in the first set,struggled hard in the second where he had three games but overall Aqeel dominated the proceedings and closed the match with a 6-3 victory.In the second quarter-final Yasir Khan beat Muhammad Abid by 6-4 and 6-2, Shehzad Khan beat Umar Babar by 6-1 and 6-2 and Jalil Khan beat Pakistan’s most Davis Cupper Veteran player Hamid-ul-Haq in a marathon 7-5 and 6-3.
Now Aqeel Khan will face Yasir Khan in the first semi-final while Shehzad Khan will face Jalil Khan, the second seed, in the second semi-final to be played on Thursday.In the Under-18 semi-final Muhammad Abid defeated Imtiaz Khan by 6-3 and 6-3 while Zahid Raza beat Abbas Khan by 6-3 and 6-2.In the quarter-finals M. Abid beat Rashad Khan by 6-3, 6-3, Imtiaz Khalil beat Imram Ullah by 6-4 and 6-4, Zohair Raza beat Arham Atiq by 6-3 and 6-1 while Abbas Khan upset  seeded player Hasnain Manzoor by 7-6, 4-6 and 6-2 in a thrilling match.In the Under-14 Hasnain Manzoor beat Muhammad Muzamil by 4-1 and 4-0 while M. Mudassir beat Jibran Ullah by 4-0 and 4-1 and reached to the final.In the doubles Aqeel Khan and his younger brother Jalil Khan beat Mehmood and Shahid Afridi by 6-4 and 6-4 while in the second semi-final Shehzad Khan and Yasir beat Irfan and Shehzad of PAF by 6-2 and 6-4.  The Under-14 and doubles finals will be played on Thursday.