ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan has said that Pakistan will host the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II final tie at the neutral venue of Izmir, Turkey.

In an interview with The Nation, Salim said: “I continued my efforts to convince the ITF to allow Pakistan to host Davis Cup final tie at Defense Club Lahore but when they refused to do so, then I decided to travel to Turkey, where I got tremendous response from Turkish Tennis Federation (TTF) president Cengiz Durmus who fully endorsed our decision and termed Turkey as the second home for Pakistanis. The TTF chief announced to provide us their venue free of cost for Davis Cup tie and also offered us to send our team a week earlier prior to the start of the tie to practice with top Turkish tennis players at Istanbul.

“We will send the team a week earlier before the start of the Davis Cup final and our players Aisam, Aqeel, Samir and Abid Ali will train in Istanbul for thre days and then travel to Izmir where the final will be played from September 18 to 20,” he added. “The ITF has set August 7 as deadline for the PTF to file the name of neutral venue. We wrote letter to the ITF and requested them to extend deadline for a week, which they very kindly accepted. Now we have time till August 14 to submit the neutral venue and we will write them in a day or two and submit Izmir as neutral venue for the final. The synthetic surface is very suitable to Aisam, Aqeel, Abid and Samir. It will give us edge and now I believe it will be 50-50 chance for both the teams to win the final,” he added.

Lamenting the attitude of the ITF over allowing Pakistan hosting the tie, Salim said: “After our armed forces launched Operation Zarbe Azab, the overall security of the country has improved a lot while the proposed venue of Defense Club Lahore is completely safe and secure for holding international activity in a befitting manner. So it makes no sense of depriving Pakistan of conducting the Davis Cup final at our own soil without even monitoring the security situation here.”

“In our proposal, we have mentioned that President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain has accepted our invitation of being the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony while for visiting Chinese Taipei, the red box security was guaranteed in the presence of the president, but the ITF ignored all these best arrangements guaranteed from our side,” he added.

Thanking Argentinean ambassador to Pakistan Rodolfo J Martin Saravia, Salim said: “I am highly grateful Rodolfo, who is also dean of ambassadors in Pakistan, for his all-out support for Pakistan cause, writing letter to the ITF urging them to allow Pakistan host the tie. Rodolfo is a witness of security situation in Pakistan, therefore, he issued such statements to convince the ITF to allow us host the tie, but they had already made their mind, so they preferred to deprive us of hosting the tie.”