LAHORE - Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) president Anil Khanna has said that the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF), with the help of its government, should convince Chinese government to play Davis Cup tie against Chinese Taipei at home soil as it can brighten Pakistan chances of winning the tie.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Khanna said: “Although the upcoming Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie between Pakistan and Chinese Taipei will be very challenging and a tough nut for Pakistani players to crack yet if the country succeeds in convincing China to play the tie at their homeland, it will certainly brighten their chances of winning the tie. As far as the ATF is concerned, we support Pakistan in this regard but they have to convince Chinese government for this. “Pakistan must use their good relations with China to ensure Davis Cup tie should be conducted in Pakistan as it will not only boost Pakistani players’ morale while playing in front of home crowd but also provide opportunity to local tennis lovers to witness the international players in action at their home courts,” he added.

To a query regarding his visit to Pakistan, Khanna said: “It’s a great honour for me to be here. The Punjab Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA) is very beautiful place and has very eye-catching surrounding. The security situation has also improved here, that’s why we have allotted two international U-14 tournaments to the PTF.”

About Pakistan tennis, the ATF chief said: “Pakistan has a very strong tennis culture and has produced many renowned Davis Cuppers. Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan are best players, Pakistan has produced so far. Tennis here has been flourishing under the dynamic leadership of Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Salim Saifullah Khan and patron Senator Dilawar Abbas and I hope they will soon succeed in producing more champions.”

When asked about granting international tennis events to Pakistan, Khanna, who is also ITF vice president, said: “Initially, we have allotted two ATF U-14 tennis events to Pakistan – one to be held in Lahore in February next year and other in Islamabad in March next year. We will grant more international events to Pakistan gradually and also try to convince the ITF to grant ITF men’s junior and senior events.” But the ATF chief also suggested the PTF to invite the ITF security consultants here to review their security report. “If the ITF security consultants give positive reports about security situation here then it will brighten PTF’s chances of getting more and more ITF events.”

Lauding the efforts of PLTA secretary Rashid Malik, the ATF chief said that the former Davis Cupper had been doing great job to promote tennis in the country. “I am very impressed with the way the PLTA has been organising the junior national tennis event. I saw a lot of kids playing here and I hope among them, Pakistan will get another Aisam or Aqeel soon,” Khanna concluded.

ATF Chief Anil Khanna