For the first time in 2021, the Challenger Tour moves to Asian shores this week, with the BISL 4 Southern Punjab International Squash Tournament taking place in Multan, Pakistan over the next four days.
Like all events on the Challenger Tour at the moment, there are restrictions on who can enter, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Only players currently living in Pakistan on a permanent basis have been allowed to enter this week’s Challenger 10 level tournament.
Just one non-Pakistani player features across both draws, with men’s World No.268 Darosham Khan, who represents Canada, playing. The 20-year-old was born and raised in Lahore, and continues to live there, allowing him to enter this event.
The men’s draw will be led by Asim Khan, who at World No.68, is the only man in the tournament currently inside the top 100 in the World Rankings. Amaad Fareed, the World No.101, is the No.2 seed for the event, and will be expected to reach the final alongside Khan.
The top seed for the women’s event is Madina Zafar, who is currently at her highest ever World Ranking. After winning last time out, she is now inside the top 100 in the world for the first time since August 2019, and is now the World No.93.
We caught up with Zafar ahead of the event, as she looks to win a second straight tournament, after defeating older sister Faiza in the final of the Pakistan International Squash Tournament in early December. She believes she is still in good form going into this week.
“Well I was very happy about my previous win. The year 2020 ended on a good note for me, and as far as winning against Faiza is concerned, it’s always a challenge competing against a player who knows all your strengths and weaknesses,” she explained.
“Currently I feel quite confident in my fitness, and I am excited to get back into the court for competing.”
That victory, along with an appearance at the BISL International Squash Championship, were the Pakistani’s only two appearances last year, due to the goal pandemic. However, she is expecting to come back stronger in 2021.
“The pandemic played the most important role. We were all required by the government to maintain social distance and for health precautions and safety measures I was reluctant to appear in many tournaments,” Zafar said.
“My goals for 2021 include winning several titles, as well as meeting new people and to be able to learn new things and gain different experiences.”
The event takes place from Thursday 11 to Monday 15 February at the DHA Arena in Multan, Pakistan, where Asim Khan and Madina Zafar are the top seeds for the tournament. Follow the PSA Challenger Tour on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates from the event.
Men’s Draw: BISL 4 Southern Punjab International Squash Tournament
 Asim Khan (PAK) v Salman Saleem (PAK)
Saeed Abdul (PAK) v  Waqas Mehboob (PAK)
 Zahir Sha (PAK)h v Naveed Rehman (PAK)
Syed Ali Mujtaba Shah Bokhari (PAK) v  Farhan Zaman (PAK)
 Danish Atlas Khan (PAK) v Daroshan Khan (CAN)
Muhammad Farhan (PAK) v  Nasir Iqbal (PAK)
 Israr Ahmed (PAK) v Muhammad Farhan Hashmi (PAK)
Nour Zaman (PAK) v  Amaad Fareed (PAK)
Women’s Draw: BISL 4 Southern Punjab International Squash Tournament
 Madina Zafar (PAK) v Kainat Amir (PAK)
Sadia Gul (PAK) v  Rushna Mehboob (PAK)
 Noor Ul Ain Ijaz (PAK) v Ilsa Imran (PAK)
Komal Khan (PAK) v  Anam Mustafa Aziz (PAK)
 Saima Shoukat (PAK) v [WC] Zahra Juma Khan (PAK)
Riffat Khan (PAK) v  Zaynab Khan (PAK)
 Nimra Aqeel (PAK) v Fehmina Asim (PAK)
Atman Shahbaz (PAK) v  Noor ul Huda (PAK)