LAHORE           -           Pakistan’s longest serving No 1 tennis player Aqeel Khan has said that he is still fit to serve the country and ambitious to attain more glories for it.

In an interview with The Nation on Friday, Aqeel said: “The Davis Cup tie against European tennis powerhouse, Slovenia, was really tough one for us, but the way Allah Almighty helped us first through rain and then through our outstanding performances and strong comebacks, which provided the country a stunning 3-0 triumph against strong Slovenia, which is our one of the most remarkable feats in Davis Cup history.”

The veteran player said that Aisam’s presence and motivation in the team is the key behind the country’s successive successes in Davis Cup ties. “Aisam always backs me up and boosts our morale and especially doubles my energy to produce better results for the country. Against Slovenia, it was once again Aisam, who not only made a remarkable comeback in the first encounter of the tie to provide Pakistan 1-0 lead, but also backed me up well, due to which I succeeded in doubling the lead 2-0 against the European tennis powerhouse.

“In the doubles rubber, our morale was sky high and we were enjoying our match against the one of the strongest European teams and by the grace of Almighty, we also managed to win the doubles to steer our country to a stunning 3-0 victory, which not only stunned the entire tennis world but also helped us stay in Davis Cup World Group I, where now we will take on strong Japan in September this year,” he added.

Lauding the services of coach and non-playing captain Mushaf Zia, Aqeel said: “We had very good camp with former Davis Cupper and captain Mushaf Zia, who trained and guided us well for the very important tie. He is a good captain with wide experience and knowledge while he had also remained one of the successful Davis Cuppers of his era, and had served the country in great style.”

He said that Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) and especially its President Salim Saifullah Khan deserve due credit of the national team’s Davis Cup victory. “The PTF, under the dynamic leadership of its president, has been serving the game very professionally as they not only conducted a number of international tennis tournaments but also hosted Davis Cup ties one after another at the international-standard grass courts at Islamabad’s Pakistan Sports Complex, which helped us win the Davis Cup ties successively.”

Pakistan will now play the next Davis Cup tie against Japan in September this year while having choice of ground. About this, Aqeel said: “We need to play two to three national tournaments prior to play the next Davis Cup tie against Japan while there should be a camp for the national team soon after Ramazan, so that we may prepare for the tie, where though our chances are quite bleak seeing the old records, yet we will try to give out our best.”

When reminded about his record of playing 48th Davis Cup ties for Pakistan, second to the India’s Leander Paes, who represented his country in record 57 Davis Cup ties, Aqeel said: “Yes, I am very glad to represent my country in such a record number of Davis Cup ties and I am still eager to serve it and earn more laurels for it.

“Although I had a number of opportunities from different countries for coaching job but as I have already mentioned time and again that I want to serve my country and want to pay back, whatever my country gave me, by producing future tennis stars for it.

“It is my request to the government especially Prime Minister Imran Khan and IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, who both are sportspersons themselves, to recognize my services and help me in establishing an international standard academy in Karachi with 4 to 5 courts, where I may coach the raw talent of the country and transform them into the champions,” Aqeel concluded.