The last time an Indian Davis Cup team visited Pakistan was in 1964, making this tie a truly historic event.
The decision to hold the tie in Pakistan was supported by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which assured that Indian players would not face any security concerns.
International sporting events in Pakistan came to a standstill after the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in Lahore, leading to the country being barred from hosting world-level tournaments across sports.
The impact was significant, affecting tennis growth, as Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) could not host junior ITF events, senior men’s Future tournaments, or women’s events. This hiatus also hindered the development of promising players.
The arrival of international teams like Iran in 2017 and Japan in 2021 marked a positive turn, but the excitement reaches new heights when India and Pakistan compete.
Pakistan’s top players, Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan, expressed their anticipation and hope that this Davis Cup tie could open doors for more sporting events between the two countries.
Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi, the only Pakistani player competing on the ATP Tour, said, “For me, it’s the most historical tie, probably. I am super excited to be part of it. I think it is going to promote tennis in Pakistan, definitely.”
Aqeel Khan, a national development director and head coach of Pakistan’s National Tennis Centre, highlighted the challenges the country faced in the absence of international tennis and the potential impact of the India-Pakistan tie.
“In 2018, we had less than 2000 junior players registered with us. After international tennis restarted, the number went to 50,000 from 2000, and the challenge was to retain them.”
The tie is expected to generate significant interest, eyeballs, and sponsorships, providing a much-needed boost to tennis in Pakistan. The anticipation is high, with hopes that the historic tie will pave the way for more international sports events and collaboration between India and Pakistan.
(With inputs from PTI)