ISLAMABAD - Things would be tough for us without Aisam and playing against home sides are always a tough nut to crack, says Pakistan number one tennis player Aqeel Khan in an interview with TheNation on Monday.

Aqeel said it was very unfortunate that Pakistan had to play the Davis Cup Asia Oceana Group II semi-final tie against Philippines at their own backyard.  “Almost all major international events are returning to Pakistan with the exception of cricket and tennis, as kabbdi, boxing, snooker, squash and hockey series were held in different cities of the country and by the grace of God all these events concluded successfully and not even a single mishap was reported by any national or international media,” he said.

“Aisam is no doubt a great asset of the country and his absence will hurt us a lot in the crucial tie. But I have just returned from successful tour of UAE and Bahrain and I played lot of competitive tennis over there with taking part in both singles and doubles matches and I am quite satisfied with my form and fitness. Same is the case with Jalil as he had played tennis for the last four months in Bangkok and he is super fit. Yasir and Abid Mushtaq are both young and energetic and are ready to roar, and if they were required to play the tie against Philippines, they I am sure would perform according to their abilities,” he added.

He thanked the Bahrain Tennis Club for granting him wild card for the doubles ITF Future Tennis event. He also thanked his sponsors Lotto Italian Sports Design who has been sponsoring him for the last two years and said that it was because of their assistance that he felt free from otherwise very expensive tennis related stuff and able to fully concentrate on his game.

Pakistan Tennis team comprising of Aqeel Khan, Jalil Khan, Yasir Khan and Muhammad Abid Mushtaq will leave for Manila today from Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore from Thai Airways flight TG 346, the flight would depart at 10:30pm.

Meanwhile Birbal Wadhera, Indian Tennis coach who was hired by Pakistan Tennis Federation last year to train Pakistani tennis players has sent best wishes for team Pakistan in the upcoming Davis Cup tie against Philippines and said: “I am confident despite Aisam’s absence Aqeel and Jalil would perform exceptionally well and return as victors.”