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    PakPassion is proud to present an exclusive interview with Pakistan's No. 1 ranked player and Davis Cup winner, Aqeel Khan.



    PakPassion.net: You are undoubtedly the best tennis player in Pakistan. What is the reason that you didn't thrive as much as Aisam did? Why didn't you make it to the ATP stage and to the Grand Slams?

    Aqeel Khan: It is very difficult to play world events like Aisam is playing right now. It takes a lot of money and sponsorship is a huge barrier. One has to keep on playing tournaments throughout the year, which cannot be done without a travelling and accommodating sponsor. It tried my level best and broke into the top 350 players in the world in 2004. I played many international tournaments, but didn’t get sponsorship.


    PakPassion.net: What are the main problems in promoting Tennis in Pakistan? How can we get more people to play this game? Is Tennis a rich man's sport? Are there many tennis clubs in Pakistan? What’s your experience?

    Aqeel Khan: Tennis is not at all a rich man’s sport. In Europe, there are tennis courts in public places, whereas in Pakistan, you will only see players playing tennis in big clubs, with expensive memberships. A middle-class human being cannot afford tennis in Pakistan due to lack of courts. There should be the same number of tennis courts in Pakistan as cricket grounds.


    PakPassion.net: Why can't the Asians cope with the singles events of tennis? We saw Aisam withdrawing and then Sania preferred to play doubles only. Only a few notable Asian players like Li Na, Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda etc. are seen playing competitive tennis. Is the diet factor an issue or their body build?

    Aqeel Khan: The main reason of this is the lack of tennis in Asia. In Europe, there are tournaments played every week and tennis is highly promoted there. People travel to other countries within the continent to play tournaments. The trend has shifted to Asia in the recent past, Now, you will see Asians taking up tennis gradually. Diet is a secondary factor.


    PakPassion.net: How hard was the decision of the awarding of the entire recent Davis Cup tie to New Zealand to take? Was the court condition too miserable?

    Aqeel Khan: It was the most absurd decision of Davis Cup history. The court was lush green. There was only one small patch on it, which was created by the New Zealand players. The referee was highly inexperienced. He didn’t know anything about grass courts. On the very first day, the referee was asking us for guidance. It was a very one-sided decision.


    PakPassion.net: Will Pakistan ever be able to get promotion to Group I or any better than that?

    Aqeel Khan: Yes, Aisam and I are very confident that within one year, we will clinch promotion to Group I. We know every bit of grass courts and we will fight for our rights. We should be handed the opportunity to choose the surface and play on a neutral venue.


    PakPassion.net: How was the experience of you coaching Sri Lanka to help them clinch promotion to Group II?

    Aqeel Khan: It was a great experience. Their captain was my friend. He called me to guide him. I shared my experience. We worked very hard and I am glad they completely outplayed their opponents.


    PakPassion.net: Without Aisam Qureshi, Pakistan went down in the Davis Cup 3-2 to the Philippines. Was Aisam's decision to play at an ATP tournament instead of representing Pakistan a wise one?

    Aqeel Khan: His decision was justified. He had to defend his points, which he won from that tournament the year before. He was committed to play that tournament.


    PakPassion.net: How do you see tennis shaping up in the next decade or two in Pakistan? Is it hard to begin a career in tennis in Pakistan - did you ever consider trying your luck as a cricketer?

    Aqeel Khan: We have extremely talented players and I am sure Pakistan will progress in tennis in the years to come. My father is a tennis coach, hence I wanted to play tennis too.


    PakPassion.net: As your brothers, Jalil and Yasir, are playing professional tennis, following your foot-steps, what is your advice to them? Do they have the same potential as you have?

    Aqeel Khan: My brothers are very hard working. Jalil is into coaching now. He recently coached in the United States of America and Thailand. Yasir is still learning and has already represented Pakistan in the Davis Cup. He has a lot of potential.


    PakPassion.net: Which youngsters do you see coming up? Who do you think can make a mark professionally and what is your advice to those who want to take up tennis as their career?

    Aqeel Khan: There are numerous players, stating from U14, who are highly talented. Muzzafar and Muzzamil have a bright future. Yasir Khan, Mohammad Abid, Heera Ashiq, Ahmad Babar etc. are the players whom the onus will be on once Aisam and I retire. My advice for Ahmad Babar is to work hard and replicate his junior’s results. He is a very good player.


    PakPassion.net: Seeing as how you're coached by your father, Jamil Khan, what kind of influence has he had on you in terms of your career in tennis? How was that experience as a youngster growing up with the sport, and how is it now?

    Aqeel Khan: My father is a wonderful coach. The most difficult time for a tennis player is the start and my father built a very strong base for me. Had I not been coached by him, I would not have been a successful player.


    PakPassion.net: How hard is it to get a sponsor in Pakistan?

    Aqeel Khan: I’d like to share my experience over here. It is not easy to get sponsorship in Pakistan unless and until your father has good personal and business contacts.


    PakPassion.net: We are usually good at junior circuit and Challenger events, but that elusive Grand Slam level is not manageable for most Pakistani players. What is the main hurdle that you think Pakistanis face, in moving from Challenger and Tier 2 events to main ATP arena? Do you really think it is lack of talent or something else that you can pinpoint?

    Aqeel Khan: The problem is the lack of exposure for our players. They play very good tennis in Pakistan, but seldom travel abroad to play tournaments. Sponsorship is very important, but they don’t get it.


    PakPassion.net: What was your dream when you chose Tennis as your career? Has it been fulfilled yet?

    Aqeel Khan: My dream was to represent my country in Davis Cup, which Alhamdulillah, has been fulfilled. I got more than I desired. I broke into the top 350 players and won medals and laurels in the Islamic Solidarity Games. I wanted to represent my country in ATP events, but due to lack of sponsors, I couldn’t do it.


    PakPassion.net: Do you think the tennis coaches in Pakistan are well equipped and capable enough? Which tennis coach do you suggest? Are there any well known ones in Pakistan?

    Aqeel Khan: Yes, we have a number of qualified coaches in Pakistan. They are very hard-working and have produced results in the past. Rasheed Malik is the best one. Mohammad Khalid, Inam-ul-Haq, Mehboob, Subhan are not far behind either. There is another coach I’d like to mention here; Faheem Siddiqui. He has been working in Bagh-e-Jinnah for a long time and has produced fine players.


    PakPassion.net: Your style of playing tennis is quite unique. As a right handed player, you play the double handed forehand and single handed backhand. Who suggested you to play in this way?

    Aqeel Khan: I used to play in that fashion when I was very young. I didn’t have power and used both of my hands to hit the ball. I played forehand more than backhand and hence got used to it. It doesn’t make any difference to me. I have been very successful with it.


    PakPassion.net: Do you think Aisam-ul-Haq will win a Grand Slam ever?

    Aqeel Khan: Yes, I am very much hopeful he will win a Grand Slam or at least reach the final again this year.


    PakPassion.net: What do you plan to do after retirement?

    Aqeel Khan: I will take up coaching after my retirement and try to produce top players, who will do Pakistan proud in future.


    PakPassion.net: Who is your all-time favourite player?

    Aqeel Khan: My all-time favourite player is Stefan Edberg of Sweden. David Nalbandian, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have also impressed me a lot. In ladies, Steffi Graf and Justine Henin are my favourites.


    PakPassion.net: Who will win the upcoming French open? Will Roger Federer win a Grand Slam ever again?

    Aqeel Khan: I’m banking on Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, to win the Roland Garros. As far as Roger Federer is concerned, Wimbledon 2013 will be his last chance to win a Grand Slam. Grass is his favourite surface. All the other surfaces are quick and don’t support him anymore.


    PakPassion.net: Thank you very much for your time.

    Aqeel Khan: My pleasure!
    Last edited by Shayan; 25th May 2013 at 04:57.

  2. #2
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    Really nice of Aqeel and some good answers

    My dream was to represent my country in Davis Cup, which Alhamdulillah, has been fulfilled. I got more than I desired. I broke into the top 350 players and won medals and laurels in the Islamic Solidarity Games. I wanted to represent my country in ATP events, but due to lack of sponsors, I couldn’t do it.


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  3. #3
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    I Personally know aqeel sir, have practiced and travelled with him for tournaments. He is a wonderful guy, loves Pakistan and is a role model for me and many other people. One of the best sportsmen pakistan has ever produced and I frankly feel he doesn't get the credit he deserves. A great Pakistani and a great human being.

    Thanks for doing a interview with him BFK, I know he is a friend of yours too A brilliant read !


    Alone we are Pathan, Punjabi, Sindhi and Balochi...together we are Pakistan

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    A very interesting interview Farid.

    Many thanks also to Aqeel.



  5. #5
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    Great to see Tennis players from our country flourishing. Thanks for the interview Farid!

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    "I am sure Pakistan will progress in tennis in the years to come": Aqeel Khan

    Great interview! Fantastic job!

    All of us here live cricket - particularly Pakistani cricket - but it would be amazing to see Pakistan also In-Shaa-Allah excel in other sports.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by corneredtiger85292 View Post
    I Personally know aqeel sir, have practiced and travelled with him for tournaments. He is a wonderful guy, loves Pakistan and is a role model for me and many other people. One of the best sportsmen pakistan has ever produced and I frankly feel he doesn't get the credit he deserves. A great Pakistani and a great human being.

    Thanks for doing a interview with him BFK, I know he is a friend of yours too A brilliant read !
    Yes, he is a very good friend of mine and an exceptional human being. He deserves all the due credit.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saj View Post
    A very interesting interview Farid.

    Many thanks also to Aqeel.
    Yes, really is, Saj bhai.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strike! View Post
    Great to see Tennis players from our country flourishing. Thanks for the interview Farid!
    My pleasure. It's a wonderful feeling to see our sportsmen flourish abroad.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TalhaSyed View Post
    Great interview! Fantastic job!

    All of us here live cricket - particularly Pakistani cricket - but it would be amazing to see Pakistan also In-Shaa-Allah excel in other sports.
    Thanks a bunch, Talha. I am hopeful that Pakistan will excel in other sports as well.

  11. #11
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    A wonderful experience it was interviewing the best tennis player in Pakistan. Many thanks to Aqeel for the interview. Will interview Aisam-ul-Haq - The Pride of Pakistan as well in near future.

  12. #12
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    Looking forward to Aisam ul Haq's interview next


    Alone we are Pathan, Punjabi, Sindhi and Balochi...together we are Pakistan

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by corneredtiger85292 View Post
    Looking forward to Aisam ul Haq's interview next
    Yes, Inshallah! Will be interviewing him soon.

  14. #14
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    Nice interview to read - interesting to hear how tough it is for tennis players in Pakistan.



  15. #15
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    Yes, Shayan. It is almost improbable to start a tennis career in Pakistan.

  16. #16
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    https://www.dawn.com/news/1451053/do...l-at-itf-event

    ISLAMABAD: Aqeel Khan, Pakistan’s veteran and long-serving national champion, lost to Britain’s youngster Alexis Canter in the second round of the Begum Kulsum Saifullah Khan ITF Men’s Pro-circuit Futures (F-2) Tennis Tournament here at the PTF Complex on Wednesday.

    Sixth seed Canter, 20, comfortably subdued 38-year-old Aqeel 6-2, 6-4.

    Meanwhile, Aqeel could not win in the men’s doubles too as the Russian-German pair of Anton Chekhov and Kia Wehnelt outclassed the Pakistani and his Chinese Taipei partner Ray Ho 6-4, 6-2.

    It is relevant to mention here that Aqeel in the recently-concluded ITF Futures (I), had failed to advance beyond the main round in the main round where was beaten by third seed Ti Chen of Chinese Taipei.

    ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

    Meanwhile, another Pakistani Yousuf Khalil was defeated by Italy’s Lorenzo Bocchi 6-1, 6-2.

    Like ITF Futures (2), a national ranking Begum Kulsum Saifullah tournament is also being staged at the PTF Complex for U-18 and ladies singles categories.

    Results (prefix number denotes seeding):

    Men’s singles:

    Second round: 1-Cheong-Eui KIM (KOR) bt Ray HO (TPE) 6-2, 6-3; 6-Alexis CANTER (GBR) bt Aqeel Khan (PAK) 6-2, 6-4; 3-Sora Fukuda (JPN) bt Anton Chekhov (RUS) 6-1, 6-0; Darko Jandric (SRB) bt 8-Niklas Johansson (SWE) 6-1, 7-6(5); 5-Lorenzo Bocchi (ITA) bt Yousuf Khalil (PAK) 6-1, 6-2; 4-Kai Wehnelt (GER) bt Worovin Kumthonkittikul (THA) 6-3, 6-2; 7-Hamidreza Nadaf (IRN) bt Dmitry Myagkov (RUS) 6-2, 6-2; 2-Rio Noguchi (JPN) bt Saida’lo Saidkarimov (UZB) 6-2, 6-3

    Men’s doubles:

    First round: Ahmed Choudhry (PAK)/Niklas Johansson (SWE) bt Shahzad Khan (PAK)/Syed Zohair Raza (PAK) 6-0, 6-2; Joe Cooper (GBR)/Matt SEEBERGER (US) bt Chandril Sood (IND)/Lakshit SOOD (IND) 4-6, 7-6(4) [13-11]; Mohammad Abid Ali Khan Akbar (PAK)/Shamael Chaudhry (GBR) bt 2-Alexander Pavlioutchenkov (RUS)/Vladimir Polyakov (RUS) 6-4, 6-1; 3-Darko Jandric (SRB)/Cheong-Eui Kim (KOR) bt Heera Ashiq (PAK)/Malik Abdul Rehman (PAK) 6-2, 6-3; 4-Sora Fukuda (JPN)/Rio Noguchi (JPN) bt Mudassir Murtaza (PAK)/Muzammil Murtaza (PAK) 6-0, 7-5; Mohammad Abid (PAK)/Waqas Malik (CAN) bt Lorenzo Bocchi (ITA)/Alexis Canter (GBR) 7-6(5), 3-6 [10-7]; 1-Anton Chekhov (RUS)/Kai Wehnelt (GER) bt Aqeel Khan (PAK)/Ray Ho (TPE) 6-4, 6-2

    U-18 boys singles:

    Second round: Mohammad Shoaib bt Kashan Umar 6-0, 6-0; Osama Khan bt Azan Sajid 6-0, 6-0; Hasam Khan bt Ahmed Kamil — walkover; Musa Chaudhry bt Azan Shahid 7-5, 6-3; Ahmed Asjad bt Kamran Khan 6-1, 6-1; Sami Zeb bt Abdul Hanan 6-3, 6-3; Subhan bin Salik bt Nauman Aftab 6-4, 6-3; Rayan Jawad bt Mohammad Hamza Asim — walkover

    U-14 boys singles:

    Second round: Talha Khan bt Hamza Jawad 6-2, 6-1; Huzaima Abdul Rehman bt Ahmed Nael 6-1, 6-0; Uzair Khan bt Azan Sajid 4-6, 6-4, 6-0; Huzaifa Khan bt Abdul Basit 6-0,6-0; Sami Zeb bt Hamza Asim 6-2, 6-1; Hamza Roman bt Ali Zain 6-3, 6-2

    Ladies singles:

    First round: Sara Mansoor bt Adela Miron 6-0, 6-0; Ushna Suhail bt Shahida Farooq 6-0, 6-0; Khunsha Baber bt Esha Jawad 7-6, 6-1; Hania Naved bt Mahnoor Suhail 6-0, 6-0; Sarah Mahboob bt Mahvish Chishite 6-0, 6-1; Meheq Khokhar bt Zainab Ali Raja 6-0, 6-1; Sheeza Sajid bt Fatima Ali Raja 6-0, 6-1; Shimza Naz bt Mahrukh — walkover.

    https://www.dawn.com/news/1451053/do...l-at-itf-event


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