Pakistan has filed an appeal with the International Tennis Federation (ITF), challenging its decision to shift the Davis Cup tie against India to a neutral venue with the assertion that Islamabad is well-equipped to host the clash.
Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) President Salim Saifullah has confirmed that a formal appeal has been filed with the ITF and they were expecting a positive response by November 15.
“We have pointed out that we are fully prepared to host India for the Davis Cup tie as there is no security issue and nor should political ties between the two countries over-ride our chance of hosting a major event,” Saifullah said.
Saifullah said the event-free opening of the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday is a clear indicator that despite the ongoing diplomatic tensions it is possible to host the Indian tennis team in Islamabad.
“I think our case is very strong because there is no viable argument for shifting the tie to a neutral venue,” he said.
Pakistan was earlier scheduled to host India in the Davis Cup Asia Oceania Group-I tie on September 14 and 15 at the grass courts of Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad, where matches against Uzbekistan, Korea and Thailand have taken place in 2017 and 2018.
But the ITF announced early this month that the tie would be held at a neutral venue to be chosen by Pakistan after the All India Tennis Association (AITA) requested the tie to be shifted from Islamabad. The ITF said it had acted on the recommendations of its independent security advisors.
Saifullah also said if their appeal was not accepted, the PTF had some other options and was working on those.
“We may tell the ITF that we’ll not nominate the neutral venue. We’ll request it to ask AITA to choose where its outfit wants to play,” he added.
Saifullah said the Indian officials had used the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) ongoing sit-in in Islamabad to convince the ITF that their players would not be able to focus on the matches.
“They highlighted to the ITF about JUI-F leadership’s aggressive attitude. We have a very good chance of beating India on our grass courts and the Indians know this that is why they are using all tactics to delay and shift the tie,” he said.
Pakistan’s top players, Aisam-ul-Haq and Aqeel Khan have also criticized the decision of the ITF to allow a shift in the Davis Cup venue.