ISLAMABAD - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has accepted Pakistan's request of confirming Izmir as neutral venue for the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II final against Chinese Taipei.

Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan said this and added: “The Davis Cup final will be held from September 18 to 20 at the hard courts of Turkey. Now according to my assessment, both the teams have equal chances of winning the final.”

When this scribe asked Salim, Chinese Taipei players were well-known of playing on same courts, Salim replied: “Our players Aisam, Aqeel, Samir and Abid also play well on hard courts. The conditions will be completely different for Chinese Taipei players and they will not enjoy the same crowd’s support, which they were expecting while playing the tie at their own soil.”

Salim said: “The PTF will conduct Masters Super 8 Tennis Championship from August 20 here at Senator Dilawar Abbas PTF Tennis Complex, in which Aqeel, Abid Akbar, M Abid, Yasir Khan, Ahmed Chaudhry and Shahzad Khan will take part along with Canada-based Pakistani player Asad Ali Syed (19) and UK-based Pakistani Hamza (23).

“I witnessed both Asad and Hamza while playing and both are eager to play in Pakistan. I immediately decided to provide them with an opportunity, which will serve both purposes, as our players will get a chance to play against different style players and we will also get fresh pool of players, who can represent the country in the years to come,” he added.

When this scribe contacted PTF secretary Khalid Rehmani to ask why the PTF had been holding Master Cup on clay courts when Pakistan had to play Davis Cup final on hard courts, Rehmani replied: “They are top players, and it will have no impact on their overall performance. They need two to three sessions to adjust on any surface and it is more important for Davis Cup-bound players to play in competitive matches and prepare well for the task ahead than worrying about surfaces.”

To a query, Rehmani said: “The training camp will start after the Masters Cup and the top players will already be involved in two or three championships prior to the Davis Cup final, so this will certainly help the players prepare well for the Davis Cup final tie.”

The PTF secretary also confirmed that former national female champion Sarah Mehboob Khan was hired by the PTF as coordinator. “Sarah will look after tennis affairs and will be involved in tennis-related activities. The federation and players will definitely take benefit from her experience and services.”

Rehmani also said that Asian Tennis Federation (ATF)-appointed coach Khansaman Pracharapol reached the city on late Saturday night and started training camp at POF Wah Sunday. “Twenty kids from across the country are taking part in the two-week long camp, which will conclude on August 28. We are very grateful to ATF president Anil Khanna for accepting our request of sending the coach free of cost.”

“We are also very grateful to POF Wah, which is our affiliated unit for providing boarding/lodging to the coach as well as the players. It is a great opportunity for the youngsters to get training from a highly-qualified coach and then represent the country at higher level,” Rehmani concluded.