ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan says he is optimistic about Pakistan team’s chances in the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II final against Thailand.

Talking to The Nation, Salim said: “In highly limited resources, I always tried to provide my players every possible facility and arranged international matches and training abroad for them. I always emphasized on providing maximum opportunities to juniors, that’s why I arranged ITF Features for them and also sent juniors for different circuits, which is helping the federation as well as players gain international exposure and obtain ITF points.”

He said Aisam has joined the camp and has long been training and practising with Aqeel and other players. “The grass courts will obviously provide Pakistan edge and as being hosts, it is our right to choose the surface of our liking. Aisam and Aqeel have served Pakistan tennis for almost two decades and their efforts and services are no secret to anybody.”

The PTF chief said he was grateful to Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) minister Riaz Pirzada for the help in providing offices for international match referee and officials and the best facilities to the players. He was very happy that Davis Cup final is being played in the PSB grass courts and he is eager to join the national team to buck them up. It is a great gesture and I am also thankful to PSB DG Akhtar Ganjera for providing each and every facility to the entire Davis Cup team.”

When asked Abid Akbar failed to force his way into the squad and why the federation provided him air ticket, Salim said: “It is good for tennis as both the players were evenly matched and both displayed their talent to the best of their abilities. The better player won and it’s good for Pakistan tennis as Abid Muhstaq is a local lad and he played superb tennis. We arranged ticket for Abid Akbar for Davis Cup tie against Hong Kong, so I wanted him to come and try his luck. It is not about money but it is about giving equal chances to all.”

About the opponents, Salim said: “I know Thailand has a very competitive and balanced team and they have played excellent tennis throughout the campaign, but we are not less than them and will give them a good run for their money. I am confident enough that Pakistan team has every reason to stand bright chances of winning the tie. I request all tennis lovers to join us at the venue on 15th to 17th and support their team and tennis. I thank the ITF, our security agencies, CDA and all those who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the federation.”

Meanwhile, Abid Akbar was thrashed by young Abid Mushtaq 3-1 in the trial match played at grass courts. Abid Akbar, who just returned from USA and was firm favourite to win the match, won the first set 6-4 but M Abid who bounced back in great style and grabbed the second set 6-0. He continued his supreme touch in the third set and won it 6-1 while he also took the fourth set 6-0 to storm into the Davis Cup squad.