Tennis: Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq to Play in U.S. Open Finals, Twice

Posted on September 9, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Sports
45 Comments
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Adil Najam

Pakistani tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi will feature in two different finals at Flushing Meadow’s – the home of U.S. Open Tennis – this week: Aisam has reached the finals in both the Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles categories!

(Photos: Picture on left is Kveta Peschke and Aisam-ul-Haq; picture on right is Aisam-ul-Haq and Rohan Bopanna; during US Open 2010)

He will be playing the first of those finals today (Thursday, September 9, 2010) – US Open Mixed Doubles – where Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and his Czech partner Kveta Peschke will play the World Number 1 ranked pair of Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan, both from USA.

This is by far the best performance by a Pakistani in a grand slam tournament, and to be playing in two different  finals in one of the most important (possibly, second only to Wimbledon) tennis tournament in the world is a major achievement. In any doubles game credit should go equally to both players in the team, Aisam-ul-Haq has blossomed into a doubles player of great skill and merit and has been steadily improving his world standings in doubles tennis (now ranked No. 34 in World Doubles rankings).

We have followed with fascination the rise of the 30 year old from Lahore and written about him in different contexts (here, here, here). His rise in this year’s US Open Doubles tournaments has been particularly heartening, and all the more impressive since he is playing both categories side-by-side.

In the Mixed Doubles, the road to the Finals looked like this:

Kveta Peschke (CZE) and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK) BEAT
Semi-Finals: 7-6, 7-6
Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER) and Mark Knowles (BAH)
Quarter-Finals: 3-6, 6-2, 1-0
Gisela Dulko (ARG) and Pablo Cuevas (URU)
Round 2: 5-7, 6-3, 1-0
Yaroslava Shevedova (KAZ) and Julian Knowle (AUT)
Round 1: 7-5, 4-6, 1-0
Vania King (USA) and Horia Tecau (ROU)

In the Men’s Doubles, the road to the Finals looked like this:

Rohan Bopanna (IND) and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK) BEAT
Semi-Finals: 7-6, 6-4
Eduardo Schwank (ARG) and Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
Quarter-Finals: 7-5, 7-6
Wesley Moodie (RSA) and Dick Norman (BEL)
Round 3: 6-3, 6-4
Daniel Nestor (CAN) and Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)

Round 2:
6-4, 6-4
Michael Kohlmann (GER) and Jarkko Nieminen (FIN)
Round 1: 6-3, 7-6
Brian Battistone (USA) and Ryler DeHeart (USA)

In both the finals, Aisam will be playing against American Bob Bryan. In the Mixed Doubles Final, Aisam and his Czech partner Kveta Peschke will play against Bob Bryan and his fellow-American Liezel Huber (ranked World No. 1) while in the Men’s Doubles Final Aisam and his Indian partner Rohan Bopanna will be pitted against the American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan (also ranked World No. 1 in the doubles).

His stellar streak, coming at a time when just about everything in Pakistan- from floods to cricket – seems to be going terribly wrong gives some solace to Pakistani fans. The first of his Finals will be played later today (Thursday, September 9) and we wish Aisam and Kveta  the very best of luck, as we do to Aisam and Rohan  who will feature in the Men’s Final later this week.

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45 responses to “Tennis: Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq to Play in U.S. Open Finals, Twice”

  1. Quran Online says:

    well i think that aism-ul-haq is a great tennis player..he is trying to make pakistani’s image better in games as our cricket is only making bad name all over world

  2. Kamran says:

    @Ahmed

    Mr. Ahmed, its not only about what Aisam has achieved as a tennis player. It is about how he carries himself as a Pakistani on world stage. What he says, where he comes from, the journey he had to make it there. The resources that Bryan Brothers or Nadal, Federer etc. get is no way comparable to what Aisam received while he was learning his trade. Yet he was able to succeed to a certain level, against a lot of odds.

    We should not just look where he ended up, we should also look where he started his journey, and how he got there.

  3. Mohit says:

    @Ahmed

    I see your point but dont completely agree with you. Tennis doubles is very popular in both US & Europe. It requires strategy and team work to do well in doubles. All great tennis players of the past (McEnroe, Connors, Edberg, Wilander, Becker et al) have played doubles & mixed doubles tennis and have won accolades.

    This is an achievement (not great) for Pakistan Tennis since someone has grabbed media attention for Pakistan in a positive way. Unfortunately, very few good things are being reported for the country. I hope Aisam does even better than this!

  4. Aamir Ali says:

    Mr Ahmed stop being a Debbie Downer and enjoy some rare success for Great Pakistani Nation.

  5. Ahmed says:

    Well, I don’t want to stand in the way of some harmless vicarious enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong. I *do* agree that the Aisam-Rohan showing is something to feel proud about. My only comments were on the *degree*. Lets not get carried away.

    At the very least, we have to recognize two patent facts.

    1. Tennis doubles is a sideshow. Not the main show. Long before there was an Indo-Pak express of Aisam-Rohan, there was the Indian Express of Bhupathi-Paes. These guys jointly and separately actually *won* grand slam events, not just make the final. In fact, they won *lots* of grand slam events. A half a dozen or so, actually! Yet, no one in their right mind would mistake India for a tennis powerhouse. Or, even a tennis powerhut :-)

    2. If tennis doubles stops being a sideshow, you can bet that the true tennis powers (read, US and Europe) will be focusing on it and it is unlikely that you would see South Asians even as successful as they are now. Unless, of course, they learn to truly compete at the world-class level.

    So, where am I coming from on this issue? I just don’t like double standards based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, or anything. I just don’t like the fact that while arguably the best tennis doubles players ever (the Bryans) ride the #7 train back from Flushing Meadows into relative obscurity, the guy who lost to them gets the highest sports award in his land. It is this kind of fawning worship that makes our sports personalities really achieve very little. Well, why achieve when you already are the biggest thing since sliced bread in your country!

    I know people are going to say, lets take baby steps first. And, I understand that. I am guilty as anyone to proudly talk endlessly about my ten-year old’s writing skills. But, nobody mistakes him for Shakespeare.

    Ahmed

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