Davis Cup: Pakistan not half as bad as Rio, says Aqeel

Veteran tennis player urges ITF to follow IOC’s example

Natasha Raheel August 24, 2016
The Karachi-based player says last time Pakistan played in New Zealand, the hosts used indoor hard courts, which were surprisingly slow. PHOTO: APP

KARACHI: Veteran tennis player Aqeel Khan has once again voiced his disappointment with Pakistan being forced to play their Davis Cup match in a foreign venue — this time in New Zealand, where the two sides will clash in their all-important Asia/Oceania Group I relegation tie next month.

Pakistan have been unable to host any Davis Cup matches since 2005 due to the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) concerns regarding security, thereby forcing the national squad to play their ties abroad ever since.

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According to Aqeel, the ITF can take a leaf out of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) book, with the organisation allowing the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro to host the recently concluded Olympics despite a recent report in The Independent naming 21 Brazilian cities in the list of world’s most dangerous cities.

“The ITF should play its role in promoting the diversity of Davis Cup by encouraging smaller countries like Pakistan to host their home ties,” Aqeel told The Express Tribune. “We have been deprived of international action at home for too long now, and ITF’s reasons for not letting us hold the event here is something that can be worked on, as I believe we are capable enough to provide the requisite security.”

He added, “If the IOC can stick with Rio for Olympics despite the law and order problems, then anyone can see that Pakistan isn’t half as bad. If the IOC can trust Brazil with a mega event like Olympics, then Davis Cup ties aren’t a problem to manage either.”

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Pakistan returned to Group I in 2015, a feat they had achieved nine years earlier before being relegated to Group II.

However, the challenge now is to maintain their place in Group I after they lost their first-round tie 5-0 to China in March.

“This tie [against New Zealand] was supposed to be our home tie,” explained Aqeel. “Playing New Zealand in their country obviously won’t help us, as the choice of surface will be theirs.”

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The Karachi-based player further said that the last time Pakistan played in New Zealand, the hosts used indoor hard courts, which were surprisingly slow. “They make courts according to their strengths, while if we were playing in Pakistan, we’d have that advantage.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2016.

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J. Niaz | 5 years ago | Reply ITF must realize that safe venues can easily be provided in Pakistan. The Pakistan Tennis Federation needs to be more active here.
Hari Om | 5 years ago | Reply It would be foolish of ITF to follow Aqeel Khan’s advice and allow playing of tennis matches in Pakistan when sportspersons from Pakistan’s as Close as Teeth to Lips Iron Brother, the Peoples Republic of China, thought Rio de Janeiro was a lot safer than anywhere in Pakistan. Here recollect that China participated at the Rio 2016 Olympics but insisted on playing their March 2016 Davis Cup Tennis tie with Pakistan in a third country, namely Sri Lanka.
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