Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday welcomed the return of international tennis after a 12-year hiatus, taking a 2-0 lead against Iran in a group II Davis Cup match in Islamabad.
International sporting events have been rarely held in the country which has fought an insurgency for years.
Hopes were high at the Davis Cup match in the capital Friday, where Pakistan won both singles matches in straight sets.
Aqeel Khan beat Iran’s Shahin Khaledan 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-2; while Aisam Qureshi downed Anoosha Shahgholi 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
The tie, which is the first round of Asia Oceania Group II, is being played from February 3-5 at Pakistan Sports Board’s refurbished synthetic courts
Pakistan and Iran have played each other thrice, with Pakistan winning two ties (both in Iran) and Iran winning once (in Pakistan).
This event is Pakistan’s first Davis Cup tennis tie at home in 12 years, as the hosts were earlier forced to play at neutral venues due to security fears.
Salim Saifullah Khan, president of the Pakistan Tennis Federation said that having the home advantage for the first time in years would prompt a huge leap in Pakistani tennis.
Pakistan last hosted a Davis Cup tie in Islamabad against New Zealand in 2004, and were forced to play its Group I play-off tie in Christchurch, New Zealand which they lost 5-0 in September last year.