KARACHI: Tennis ace Aqeel Khan has urged Iran to honour the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) decision of letting Pakistan host their Asian-Oceania Zone Group II Davis Cup tie after it emerged that the neighbouring country has asked the tie to be moved from Islamabad.
Deprived of Davis Cup hosting rights for 12 long years, Pakistan’s tennis fraternity rejoiced in unison last month when ITF finally allowed them to stage their upcoming tie with Iran on their own turf instead of a neutral venue.
But the visitors appear to be dodging having to play in Pakistan’s backyard and are seeking a move away citing the same old ‘security reasons,’ much to the dismay of Aqeel, who has appealed to the Irani officials to reconsider their decision.
Aisam ‘super excited’ to be playing at home
“We are extremely glad with ITF’s decision and Iran should accept it too” Aqeel told The Express Tribune. “We have suffered a lot during these 12 years when we could not play at home.”
The long-standing domestic number one intelligently pointed out that Irani athletes have had no qualms in visiting Pakistan in recent years, which is why he finds their reluctance this time baffling.
“It’s not like other Irani citizens haven’t been coming to Pakistan,” said Aqeel. “We can accept their concern if no one from Iran was visiting Pakistan. Squash players from Iran recently visited Pakistan then why should tennis be an exception?”
Return of Davis Cup tennis tie
Aqeel reiterated that the tie should take place in Pakistan as it will give them an advantage and a confidence boost for future ties as well.
“We are just praying that the ITF wouldn’t change the decision,” said Aqeel. “If the tie will take place in Pakistan we have a better chance of winning it as we will play on hard courts instead of clay where Irani players excel, so we need this surface advantage.”
12-year wait: Davis Cup finally coming to Pakistan
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) Secretary Khalid Rehmani informed that the ITF executive body’s decision over Iran’s appeal is expected on Monday.
“It was shocking for us to see this coming from Iran. We are committed to providing their players with presidential security and ITF had evaluated our arrangements before approving Islamabad as the venue,” said Rehmani. “ITF normally doesn’t change its decision on venues but in our case we can only hope for the best.”
Courtesy : Express Tribune