ISLAMABAD     -    Pakistan’s longest serving number one tennis player Aqeel Khan has said he is practicing very hard in Geneva, Switzerland along with Pakistan’s lone international star Aisam-ul-Haq in order to prepare for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against India.

Aqeel expressed these views during an exclusive interview to The Nation from Switzerland on Friday.

“Aisam had planned for last three months or so that I should accompany him as hitting partner during tour of Europe. It would serve both purposes. Firstly it will help Aisam get into rhythm and secondly it will help me as well to prepare for the coming Davis Cup tie of massive importance against Indians, who are no doubt very strong and on paper they had much bright chances of beating Pakistan at our own soil. But you never know, as the tennis world is well aware that Aisam and I have a highly impressive doubles record and Aisam is playing singles as well these days. So never count us out as we have the habit of upsetting the likes of Koreans and we are of doing that against the Indians as well.”

Aqeel further said “I am thankful to Pakistan Tennis Federation for providing me with the ticket and soon after arriving in Switzerland, we didn’t waste a single day and started practice, as without training and working hard, we have no even outside chances of performing well against the Indians, who had a wonderful doubles pair and their singles players are equally good.

“But it doesn’t matter. We have to look at our positives and try to overcome whatever little flaws or grey areas. We are working and trying to overcome them as quickly as possible. Aisam has to take part in ATP and Grand Slam tournaments, especially the French Open and Wimbledon and he needs maximum practice. As we both are used to playing as pair in Davis Cup, it would defiantly help us both, as courts here in Switzerland are fast and it will help us a great deal in preparing for the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group-1 tie at Islamabad in September this year against India. Aisam is bearing all my travelling, accommodation and wants me to work as much as I can on my fitness and now I am pain-free as my long troubling shoulder is perfectly fine now and I am not feeling any sort of pain while hitting or serving.”

Aqeel said for last few months there were not many national tournaments held in Pakistan. “We need to get tennis around the year, as playing Davis Cup is never easy. It is like world cup of tennis, where every country brings out their best and every top player of the world loves to represent his country. I have been representing Pakistan in Davis Cup and other international tournaments for more than two decades and never put my personal ambitions ahead of national interests. If I wanted to earn money, I had offers of staying at the country of my choice, but I never for a while thought about leaving or turning my back on Pakistan, as today whatever I have achieved in life is because of country and tennis and same is the case with Aisam. He despite his highly hectic international tournaments schedule, always make sure to take break from international duties and play for Pakistan. We both had played together for more than a decade and we will continue to shoulder the hopes of the nation as long as we could. The youngsters are not coming to shoulder responsibility as they should have. I had long ago requested CM Sindh and CDA Chairman to provide a piece of land, where I could construct international standard tennis academy to produce fresh talent, which is very important for the future of Pakistan tennis. Like I and Aisam have replaced the likes of Hameed, Musaf, Asim Shafiq, Rashid Malik, someone has to replace both of us as well. If CDA or CM Sindh provides me land, I can assure in few years t, we would be able to produce number of quality players, who would serve country for several decades.”