In the first edition of Davis Cup Qualifiers, India hosted Italy in Kolkata on grass court but that didn't turn out well for the home nation, losing all three singles matches against Andreas Seppi and Matteo Berrettini to lose the tie 3-1.
Thus, India missed a chance to reach Davis Cup finals set for November in Madrid, having to play the Group I tie in September if they want to play in the Qualifiers round again in 2020. Standing as the top seeds in the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I, India could have been drawn against Lebanon, Pakistan or Korea and the tennis gods decided to send them on a trip to Pakistan, potentially the first one since 1964!
The relations between the two neighbor countries have been very low for decades now and India decided to halt all sporting events between them after attacks on Mumbai in 2008. Also, Pakistan couldn't hold sporting events in the previous years but that all changed in 2017 and 2018 when Iran, Thailand, Korea and Uzbekistan all came to play in Islamabad, experiencing no problems at all.
India and Pakistan have met six times before, with the Indians winning 23 out of 27 rubbers and all six ties, including the last one in 2006 in Mumbai. Pakistan hosted India for the last time in 1964 and they are ready for another clash against the great rivals if the Indians decide to make a trip and go there in September.
The problem lies in the fact that the Indian government's policy doesn't allow their teams to play sporting events in Pakistan but the AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee is confident that will change and they will be able to go to Pakistan and avoid the potential ban for not showing up.
Chatterjee said Pakistan would inform them about the venue and the surface by June 25 so they can arrange visas and everything in time. “I am confident we will be able to go to Pakistan,” said Chatterjee. “We have been drawn to play against them in away tie and we could be banned for two years if we decide not to go.
Unlike cricket, tennis is an Olympic sport and this is the World Cup of tennis. The ITF decides the venue and we have been drawn to play in Pakistan, and we will go there. It will be difficult for us to make a return to the World Group after that possible ban.
We share a good relation with the Pakistan Tennis Federation and have no problems in traveling”. “It’s a good draw for us with the depth in our team,” said Mahesh Bhupathi, who played in the winning doubles pair in 2006 and is now India’s Davis Cup captain. “We are looking forward to winning and getting back to the World Group Play-offs again”.