UPDATE June 26: Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq won his first round Wimbledon match beating Briton Lee Childs 6-3 6-4 7-6. His second round match is a much tougher game where he will meet former Russian No. 1, Marat Safin . According to Guardian Unlimited, the 27-year-old from Lahore said after the game: “I am living my dream. Ever since I started playing, I wanted to play Wimbledon… I was very loose and relaxed on court today,” he said. “I don’t think Lee expected me to come out today so pumped up and fired up.”
The news is 3 days old, but important enough that we are compelled to write about it here. Pakistan’s top tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi on Thursday created history by becoming the Third Pakistani ever to qualify for Wimbledon men’s singles.
This moment has arrived for Pakistanis after a gap of 31 years. The first man to represent Pakistan at Wimbledon singles was Khwaja Saeed Hai who qualified for the main round of Wimbledon for 3 consecutive years, viz. 1954, 1955 and 1956. The last man to represent Pakistan at Wimbledon singles was Haroon Rahim in 1976.
Aisam hit the limelight after winning third and final qualifying round against Canadian No 1 Frank Dancevic in a four-set thriller, lasting two hours and 50 minutes, 4-6, 7-6 (11-9), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). In Wimbledon 2007, as of June 26, Aisam has already won his first match against Britain’s Lee Childs by 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 and will now face Marat Safin of Russia in Round two.
It runs in the Family:
Aisam‘s mother Mrs Nausheen Ehtesham is also a tennis player and won first of her several Pakistan ladies singles title in 1982. She has also represented Pakistan in the Fed Cup, the women’s version of the Davis Cup.
Her father Khawaja Iftikhar Ahmad was also an all-India tennis champion who represented both India and Pakistan in the Davis Cup. Aisam‘s mother will travel to London to see her son play in the first round of Wimbledon men’s singles on Monday.
Aisam‘s mother told him before thursday’s match:
“Go all out whoever you play, even if it’s Roger Federer, and don’t get overawed by big names.” She further said: “It’s not difficult — and since he is in the same draw as Federer, I pray he gets a chance to play the world number one. It is a cherished moment for us. Aisam has made the whole nation proud.”
The player’s father Mr. Ehtesham Qureshi said his son was progressing fast.
“Aisam‘s performance at Halle international earlier this month was superb and beating Richar Gasquet of France was the highlight of his career. I see him going up and up….The first thing he did after qualifying was to send us our tickets.”
Aisam has had a successful career in Junior tennis, where he finished at No. 11 in the world in 1998. That made him Pakistan’s highest-ranked player ever on the international youth tennis arena. After turning pro in 1998, he mostly played Challenger tournaments, and played on the Pakistan Davis Cup team.
Aisam teamed with Israeli player Amir Hadad during Wimbledon and the US Open tournaments in 2002. Together, they were eliminated at the 3rd round of Wimbledon, and then and the Second round at the US Open. Together, they also won the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year award for playing together despite pressure from their communities.
Aisam has retained level of successes and is the number one player of Pakistan who has won quite a few Davis Cup ties in recent years.
Following is some of the tennis related information and player profile of Aisam. Note that the statistics below are true as of June 23, 2007:
Birthdate: 17 March 1980
Birthplace and Residence: Lahore, Pakistan
Current 52 week rank for singles: 259
Current ATP Champions Race Position: 158
Current Doubles Rank: 254
High Rank for Singles: 181
High Rank date for Singles: 1 November 2004
High ATP Champions Race Position: 158
High ATP Champions Rac Position date: 18 June 2007
High Rank for doubles: 89
High Rank date for doubles: 19 May 2003
Career Matches Won: 17
Career Matches Lost: 12
Year to date matches won: 1
Year to date matches lost: 1
Career prize money: $246677 USD
Year to date prize money for singles: $21393 USD
Year to date prize money for doubles: $4044 USD
Weight: 172 lb
Turned Pro: 1998
Back Hand: Right
Aisam on TV
The reason for Aisam‘s success may be his prowess as a tennis player; but it’s also his good looks that got him noticed. This fresh faced, pleasant looking young man was first spotted by Khawar Riaz for HUM TV. While tennis is Aisam‘s passion Khawar managed to rope in the guy for a shoot in his studios.Surprisingly it turned out quite well. The screen seemed to have instantly taken to this new find. Who knows while Aisam is busy making waves in sports, he may even be spotted modeling for various designers. With his kind of looks and attitude he’s sure to create a stir on that front too. One just has to wait and see.