Pakistan has paid a huge price in the absence of international sporting events in the last decade, and the tennis fraternity is hoping that the arrival of Indian Davis Cup team for the “historic tie” will inject fresh enthusiasm and provide a big boost to the game in the country.
The last time an Indian Davis Cup team travelled to Pakistan was way back in 1964. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) was not keen on sending its team this year too, but the ITF rejected its appeal and said categorically that there is no reason to believe that Indian players will face any security concerns in Pakistan.
International sporting events in Pakistan came to a halt after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in March 2009 in Lahore. Consequently, the country was barred from hosting world-level tournaments across sports.
The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) could not host either junior ITF events nor senior men’s Future tournaments. There were no women’s events and no Davis Cup team travelled to Pakistan till 2017.
It badly hit Pakistan tennis which was nowhere near cricket in terms of popularity in the country as many promising players were forced to quit the game for lack of growth opportunities and exposure.
The ones who were playing at U-14 level did not graduate to the men’s level and competing abroad for ITF events is not easy either for Pakistani or Indian players considering the huge cost involved.
Things began to change in 2017 when Iran sent its teams to Islamabad. The arrival of Asian powerhouse Japan in 2021 also had a positive impact.
However, nothing matches the excitement and anticipation when India and Pakistan compete in Pakistan.
The reactions of Pakistan’s top players, Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan, best summed up the excitement. They are even hoping that this tie could pave the way for the arrival of Indian cricket team to Pakistan.
“We are very, very excited and happy, finally the Indian Davis Cup team is here. I have always believed that we should keep politics, religion, culture away from sports. That’s the beauty of the sport and being a sportsman. I have always vouched for that,” Aisam, the only Pakistan player competing on ATP Tour, told PTI.
“For me it’s the most historical tie, probably. I am super excited to be part of it. I think it is going to promote tennis in Pakistan, definitely.
“Already, it has created hype that Indian team is there officially. Hopefully, it will break the barriers. In this tie, the security…