ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan No 1 tennis player Aqeel Khan has termed Hong Kong’s decision to forfeit the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group-II tie as unfortunate.  

Talking to The Nation, Aqeel said: “After Hong Kong’s withdrawal, now we will play the Group-II final against the winner of Philippines and Thailand. The good news is that the final will be played in Pakistan. This will provide local fans an opportunity to see national and international in action at local courts. In case of victory in the final, we will move to the Group-I.”  

Aqeel lamented: “We were geared up to take on Hong Kong in the newly-laid grass courts at Pakistan Sports Complex, but the decision of their withdrawal hurt us. We had beaten Hong Kong thrice at their own backyard and it was for the very first time in my professional career in 18 years long time, that I had an opportunity to play against Hong Kong at our home soil.” 

He said it was very disturbing news for all the people involved. “The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) had to bear financial losses while the tennis lovers would be deprived of watching international tennis. We had a formidable team with Asiam, M Abid, Yasir and I was in the squad and we had 100 percent chances of finishing the tie in the first two days.” 

When asked how much players depressed after hearing the sad news of Hong Kong’s forfeiting the tie, Aqeel replied: “Off course, it is very disheartening and I don’t see any solid reason or logic behind their refusal. I feel Pakistan is very safe and our law enforcement agencies had provided top class security in the past too. The Iranians looked highly relaxed and returned satisfied, while security at the PSB is also very satisfactory. We had witnessed people were already talking about Davis Cup tie and looked highly motivated. It is not good omen for Pakistan tennis.  

When asked whether the ITF would further panelised Hong Kong or not and what is the next step for the players under prevailing situation, Aqeel said: “I don’t know what action the ITF will take, but tennis will suffer a great deal.”  

When this scribe contacted PTF secretary M Khalid Rehmani to seek his point of view, he said: “It is highly unfortunate and illogical. Last time, we successfully conducted the Davis Cup tie against Iran, and not only the Iran, but also the ITF and others fully praised our arrangements and facilities provided to the visitors.  

“We can only regret Hong Kong’s decision and I can easily say, they have missed golden opportunity to witness the hospitality and sheer love of Pakistanis, which we render to the visiting teams,” Rehmani concluded. 

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan has been forced to play home Davis Cup ties abroad from 2010 because of the security situation in the country, but the ITF, after going through security arrangements, allowed Pakistan to host Iran after 12 years long and hard gap.