KARACHI: Pakistan’s preparations for hosting the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania tie against Iran is in full swing as tennis ace Aisamul Haq Qureshi has joined the camp in Islamabad for the event that will start on February 3.
Aisam has flown in for the tie after his campaign at the Australian Open ended, while Aqeel Khan and Abid Mushtaq have been practicing in Islamabad. A fourth team member, Abid Ali Akbar, meanwhile, joined the team from the US.
According to Aisam, it is a win-win situation for Pakistan as the team will be playing at home after 12 years and he is hoping for the crowd to come forward and show their support.
“This is the first time in 12 years we’ll be playing on our own home soil. There is a lot of pressure because the expectations are very high; we’ll be playing in front of our family, friends and fans. The Davis Cup is a different ball game but I am experienced enough to handle that. We have a chance to show the world that we are a peaceful nation and hopefully the crowd will show up for the matches. This might open doors for foreign teams to come to Pakistan in other sports as well.”
Aisam revealed he will be starting the practice in Islamabad on Sunday, while he feels that all the players in the team are in top form.
The 2010 US Open finalist added that Iran will be a good team to compete against, however, he only knows one player from the side, while others are new and two of them have been playing at the ATP circuit.
He said that the goal will be to continue Pakistan’s record of winning most of the home ties, while Aisam and Aqeel together have not lost any doubles tie at home in the last 16 years.
Iran will be fielding Anoosha Shahgholi, Shahin Khaledan, Hamid Reza Nadaf and Amir Hossein Badi in the squad.
The tie will take place at the Pakistan Sports Complex hard courts in Islamabad.
Aisam said that he will be strategising on the tie once all the team players are together and they begin practice on the new courts.
“We have a good team, everyone is playing their best tennis,” said Aisam. “Akbar won all the matches during the trials and Abid also performed well, so we will be looking at our options; the team is not just depending on me and Aqeel. We have a good opportunity to take the team into Group I again this year as we will be hosting the ties at home.”
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