ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Dr Syed Kaleem Imam has summoned Davis Cupper Samir Iftikhar to Bangkok prior to Pakistan's Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-II final against Thailand.

Talking to The Nation, Kaleem said: “The decision is taken in the best interest of the country keeping in mind a few realities. First of all, Aqeel is not 100 percent fit and carrying shoulder injury, secondly, Samir is playing competitive tennis and has just recently won $15,000 event and he is super fit and synthetic surface suits his style of play.”

Kaleem completely ruled out Samir's direct induction into the Davis Cup squad. “Samir's fitness and form will be adjudged properly as he will play matches against M Abid and Yasir Khan before the announcement of final squad. Top two players after matches' outcome would be selected into the team.”

“It is a golden opportunity for the country to move to the Group-I after a gap of eight years. We want to field our best available lot to help win laurels. We will also hold a simple and impressive ceremony for the departing team today (Saturday) here at Senator Dilawar Abbas PTF Complex as the squad will depart for Bangkok today. The main reason behind sending the team a week earlier is to provide them opportunity to adjust them to the conditions and then give their best during the competition,” Kaleem concluded.

Sharing his views Pakistan's No 1 Aqeel Khan termed the team’s preparations quite satisfactory. “Although for the last two days, we were unable to train even for an hour due to heavy down pour in the capital and just restricted to physical training, yet I am quite satisfied with the way we had trained for the last few days. Both Yasir and Abid are super fit and they can play a major role in helping the country move into the Group-I.”

When asked about Samir's impact on team and could he play any major role for the country, Aqeel replied: “Samir is fit, playing high quality tennis and this surface also suits him so I think it is quite fair to give him an opportunity to play matches against Yasir and Abid. Top two will be selected.” To a query regarding his shoulder injury and fitness level, Aqeel said: “I am getting physiotherapy from Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) doctor and my shoulder injury is healing fast. I am serving well, but I will decide later, should I play singles or only doubles with Aisam. I will take the decision which will be in the best interest of the country.” “I am very grateful to PTF president Kaleem Imam for his tireless efforts and recommending my name time and again for the prestigious ‘Pride of Performance’, which I finally managed to attain,” Aqeel concluded.