CHENNAI: Aisam-Ul-Haq-Qureshi is surprised that the All India Tennis Association (AITA) filed an appeal to move the upcoming Davis Cup tie at Pakistan to a neutral venue. After India cantered past Morocco 4-1, they were drawn to face the neighbours away from home in the World Group I playoffs in February 2024. However, the AITA has remained steadfast in refusing to travel to Pakistan for the tie.
Earlier this month, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) dismissed the AITA's security concerns and said the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) would retain the hosting rights (the two teams were drawn to play a tie in Pakistan in 2019 as well but that was moved out).
"To be honest, a bit surprised that India again filed a complaint or whatever you want to call it about not wanting to play the tie in Pakistan," Aisam told this daily over phone. "But really happy and appreciative about the ITF's decision. They have taken a stance that this time India should come to Pakistan."
It's important to place on record that the AITA has appealed ITF's initial verdict so the final decision rests with the tribunal. "I was really disappointed when India refused to come to Pakistan in 2019," Aisam, one-time partner of the now retired-from-Davis Cup Rohan Bopanna, said. "One of my memorable Davis Cup experiences came when we had played a tie in Mumbai. Even though we lost, it was an unbelievable event. I always stand by this thing that we should not be mixing politics or religion with sport. I really hope that next year, we get to play India in Pakistan."
The current World No. 126 in men's doubles, Aisam says PTF has already conducted lots of other Davis Cup ties in the recent past. "We have held many Davis Cup ties for the last 7-8 years. Like you mentioned, there have been other athletes who have come to Pakistan from India." In May, an Indian bridge contingent had gone across the border.
The 43-year-old, who's from Lahore, would have loved to host the Indian squad for dinner. "I spoke to Bops (Bopanna) after the draw was made," Aisam said. "Really looking forward to hosting them and showing them my country and the hospitality we are known for. Unfortunately, the tie is not in Lahore (scheduled to be held in Islamabad), otherwise would have welcomed the whole team to my house for dinner."