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India, Pakistan drawn in Davis Cup again, PTF refuses to play at neutral venue

After both won home ties to qualify for the World Group 1 playoff stage, India and Pakistan have been drawn to play each other in the Davis Cup, with the choice of venue in Pakistan’s hands. But unlike in 2019, when the two nations played their Asia Group 1 tie at a neutral venue in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Saifullah Khan has outrightly refused to play anywhere other than in their home country.

“We won’t play in a neutral venue. If India does not want to come (to Pakistan), we will not play this tie. We will play on grass courts and the Indians are a better team. And in February-March, the weather is lovely in Islamabad,” Khan told PTI.

Four years ago, due to tension in bilateral ties, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved India’s request to shift the tie to a neutral venue and delay it by two months.

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In protest, Pakistan’s marquee players Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan had refused to play the tie, and India thrashed a second-rung Pakistan side 4-0. Pakistan won just seven games across the four matches, and just three across the three singles rubbers.

However, this time, Pakistan will not relent even if India are able to convince the ITF to shift the tie to a neutral venue. “They should come to Pakistan. It’s not fair that they do not come to Pakistan,” Khan added. “The Indian team is much better than us. We have a beautiful hotel just across the stadium. If Indians come, it will send a good message that we are good neighbours.”

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The last time India played a Davis Cup tie in Pakistan was way back in 1964, when they won 4-0. Pakistan are yet to defeat India in any of the eight Davis Cup ties contested between the two countries.

After slipping to the third rung of the premier team tennis competition, India defeated Morocco 4-1 last week on home soil on the hard courts of Lucknow. The tie also happened to be the last of 50 Davis Cup ties played by doubles veteran Rohan Bopanna, who went out on a high with a straight-set win.

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Pakistan made it to the playoffs after defeating Indonesia 4-0 in the World Group 2 tie on the grass courts of Islamabad – the same venue where they want to host India.

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