LAHORE              -        Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) Senator Salim Saifullah Khan has confirmed that Pakistan will host the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group I tie against Slovenia in the first week of next month.

Talking to media here on Monday, Salim Saifullah said: “Pakistan is going to host the European team for the very first time as Slovenia is arriving in the first week of March. They will play the tie at the Islamabad’s Pakistan Sports Complex grass courts on March 6 and 7. It is very tough and important tie and it is my request to sponsors and tennis lovers to play their vital role in making the tie a success.”

The selected Slovenia squad didn’t include their top player Bedene, who is currently busy playing international event. But his brother Andraz Bedene is part of the squad. The Slovenian squad consists of Andraz Bedene (ranked 840), Tom Kocevar Desman (784), Nik Rozborsek (609), Mike Urbanija (477), Tomas Maximiliano Lipovsek Puches (former world No 250, Miha Milakar (captain) and Tea Starc (official).

About the visiting side, the PTF chief said: “Slovenia has the best tennis team, which has the world’s top ranked players. Although the tie against them will be tough and challenging, yet our players are training very hard under the guidance of former Davis Cupper Mushaf Zia and hopefully, they will try to produce better results.

“Pakistan team’s main strength in the tie will be our tennis heroes Aisamul Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan, while Muzammil Murtaza, Muhammad Abid and Heera Ashiq, who made their way to the Davis Cup squad after competing in tough trials, will also try to deliver for their side,” he added.

Salim said: “Pakistan Davis Cup team is among top six teams out of 44 Asian countries in group I, which also includes China, India, Uzbekistan, Korea and Lebanon. The team winning the tie will go on to stay in Group I while the losing side will be relegated to Group II, so our main target will be staying in group I after winning the Slovenia tie.”

He lamented that in Pakistan, sports are not being given the due importance. “Every country is giving top priority to sports, which is the best way to present the positive image of a country and also help in strengthening its economy by hosting international events. Our government should play its vital role in conducting maximum international sports events, which will help in uplifting the standard of Pakistan sports.”

Khawaja Suhail, Advisor to PTF President, said that at the moment, the federation and its units are conducting record number of tennis tournaments. “The PTF has recently organised the high-prize money tournaments including 5th Begum Kulsum Saifullah Khan National Ranking Tennis Tournament 2020 with prize money of Rs 0.8 million and Serena Hotels National Ranking Tennis Championships 2020 with Rs 0.6 million.

“The PTF is also conducting the ITF Junior and Senior events besides hosting the Davis Cup ties, which providing our players opportunities to exhibit their prowess in front of local crowd, who fully cheer and support the home side. The federation is trying to fully facilitate the players, who, in return, should respond in the best possible manner by winning laurels for the country,” he added.

Kh Suahil also appreciated talented Huzaifa Abdul Rehman and Muhammad Shoaib, who are creating waves at national level. “Both the players are capable enough of replacing our Davis Cup players soon. The PTF is providing them ample opportunities to excel at higher level.”