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April 8, 2020

Lockdown to affect preparation for Japan tie, says Aqeel

Sports

April 8, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan’s top tennis player Aqeel Khan has said that the nationwide lockdown will severely affect Pakistan’s preparations for the Davis Cup tie against Japan.

“Pakistan will face Japan in Davis Cup World Group-I in September but this crisis will have serious impact on our preparation for the tie,” said Aqeel while talking to ‘The News’. “It seems the nationwide lockdown will continue for quite some time,” he said and added that the gradual relief in the lockdown was unlikely to lead to the resumption of sports activities.

Hence, he addded, the national tennis team might not be able to get the required training before the tie. “And it is likely that the tie will be held on empty courts without spectators,” said Aqeel. Besides, he added, the national tennis circuit was suspended along with the international circuit till August. “We may have one month to train to prepare. But that too depends on the situation at that time. I think one month is enough for us so if we get our courts and national circuit back by the end of July,” said Aqeel.

Talking about Pakistan’s chances against Japan, he said they would have advantages of home ground and grass courts. “Still Japan is a very strong team with many players in top 50 rankings in the world. And even if their top players don’t come and they send their B team for the tie our chances are quite bleak,” said Aqeel.

Pakistan, ranked 34th, will face third seed Japan from September 18-20 while having choice of ground. Pakistan defeated Slovenia 3-0 in the World Group I play-offs in Islamabad in March. Pakistan have played three ties against Japan so far and lost all. Japan defeated Pakistan 4-1 in 1979 in their first encounter in the first round of EAS held in Japan.

Japan defeated Pakistan 4-1 in 1984 in the EAS Final held on the clay courts in Rawalpindi. In 2003, Japan routed Pakistan 5-0 in the first round of Asia/Oceania held in Japan.