Friday, June 14, 2024

Bopanna calls for Indo-Pak tennis


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LAHORE: Indian tennis ace Rohan Bopanna used a visit to Pakistan on Thursday to call for cross-border tennis in a bid to raise the profile of a sport overshadowed by cricket in south Asia.

The 31-year-old from Bangalore travelled to Pakistan to attend the wedding of his former Pakistani doubles partner Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi this week.

“It’s nice to be in Pakistan and I hope we resume tennis between the two countries which in turn would increase interest in the sport in both the countries,” Bopanna told reporters after playing a practice game in Lahore.

Indian-Pakistan sporting ties ended with the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, where Islamist gunmen killed 166 in a 60-hour killing spree that Pakistan later admitted was plotted at least partly on its soil.

Bopanna and Qureshi, who doubled up in 2007 and shot to fame by finishing as runners-up in last year’s US open, have been poster boys for Indian-Pakistani rapprochement at a time of deep suspicion between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Last month the pair parted ways as Bopanna wanted to find an Indian partner in a bid to qualify for next year’s London Olympics.

“We are good friends and will remain good friends,” said Bopanna. “I am here to attend his wedding and am very happy at that.”

Dubbed the “Indo-Pak Express”, the duo actively promoted India-Pakistan rapprochement and even offered to play tennis over the border, which has a history of warfare and political tension. Bopanna said they were still waiting for permission for the “peace match.”

“We offered to play a match at the Wagah border and wrote letters to both governments, but we still await clearance,” said Bopanna. A recent thaw in relations and a resumption of the tenuous peace process earlier this year has raised hopes that direct sports matches can resume, notably in India and Pakistan’s twin obsession of cricket. (AFP)


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