LAHORE - Pakistan’s rising tennis stars Mikaeel Ali Baig and Zohaib Afzal Malik have reached the boys singles quarterfinals of the ATF Somoni Cup U14 being played in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Mikaeel Ali Baig (from Karachi), 13-year-old, who mostly trains in the US, but was recently seen playing the Nationals in Karachi, where he clinched back-to-back three singles and same number of doubles titles in the championship in two weeks and lost only one set in the process. Mikaeel recently won multiple international tournaments in Puerto Rico, Florida, Alabama, and Texas. He also won the prestigious Little Mo’s Tournament in Doubles and Mixed Doubles in December 2022. This week Mikaeel is playing his first ATF tournament in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Mikaeel, who is currently unranked in ATF, was given a wildcard based on his tennis record success in both US and in Pakistan. In his first round in Dushanbe, Mikaeel defeated a local Tajik player 6-0, 6-0. In the second round, he had to face the No. 3 seed from Uzbekistan. After a very tight first set at 5-5, Mikaeel managed to get next two games and won the set 7-5. He then went on to win the second set at 6-1.
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In quarterfinals, Mikaeel will be facing another Uzbekistan player. Talking to The Nation, Mikaeel said, “I am excited to have this opportunity to play in Tajikistan and be able to represent Pakistan. I hope that I can continue to represent my motherland on a global level. I am used to training in the USA, under different conditions, so it took me a day here to get used to the environment. All the players are very good, and I am expecting tough matches. Right now, it’s still early in the tournament, and anything can happen. I want to remain focused on one match at a time.” Mikaeel and his doubles partner Zohaib Afzal Malik, who is also from Pakistan, won both first and second round of doubles, reaching the semifinals. Playing together for the first time as a doubles pair, the boys are hoping that they can continue to perform well and achieve the desired results.