Governor Punjab Salman Taseer awarded a gold medal and half a million rupees to Pakistan’s top tennis player Aisamul Haq Qureshi on Thursday. Aisam received the award from Taseer at the Governors House at a reception held in his honor for reaching the finals at the US Open.
Aisam’s success in US Open Final 2010, might give country come awareness of a sport, other than cricket. Recently, Punjab’s CM Shahbaz Sharif has directed the sports secretary to join with the Tennis star (Aisam) to promote tennis in Punjab (for some unfortunate reason, word Pakistan was omitted).
I now sincerely hope that positive steps are taken to lift off Tennis spirit in Pakistan, on institutional level particularly, especially for upcoming Davis Cup in 2011. Pakistan’s best Davis Cup performance came in 2005, when it reached the World Group play-offs. It was also one step away from qualifying for the World Group when losing the 1984 Eastern Zone Final against Japan. Pakistan’s Aqeel Khan was involved in the longest-known Davis Cup tiebreak against Korea’s Young-Jun Kim in 2003 – the first set breaker lasted 36 points.
The unlikely alliance of Sub-Continent duo continue to dominate the doubles court. The sixteenth seeded South Asian duo beat the Argentine pair of Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos 7-6 (7-5) and 6-4. The nation surrounded by controvercies, allegations, and disasters have now something to cheer about. If you are sports fan like me, than this must be somthing a moment of celebration for you, as it was for me particularly few hours ago when I was static few an hours in front of my TV. After a disasterous performance by the national cricket team in their last T20 match against England, the US Open found to be a way out for me.
Tennis tends to slip under the radar in cricket-mad Pakistan but Qureshi has already raised the sport’s profile by breaking new ground for his country after reaching the US Open mixed doubles final and semi-finals of the men’s doubles event. It is in the history of the game that any Pakistani has reached this far. Despite the criticism earlier in his current double partnership three years ago, Qureshi remains unbowed by any negativity and has always maintained that sport was above caste, creed or politics.
“I know how important my performances are right now for my countrymen. I am eager to give them something to celebrate about after the floods and cricket scandal,” Qureshi told a local television channel from New York.
Qureshi, who holds several national tennis records, has formed a formidable partnership with Bopanna and the pair are currently ranked 15th in the ATP team rankings. Their successful run on the US tour circuit continued in the third round as they faced Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia on Sunday.
In their quarterfinal, Qureshi and Bopanna took to the court against one of the tournament favourites under the scorching mid-day sun. The number two seeds looked set to dominate from the beginning as they earned three break points but the Indo-Pak duo held firm to avoid a break of serve. With the confidence of saving break points, Qureshi and Bopanna then looked to gain advantage, which came in the form of a break of serve against Nestor. The South Asian pair held on to the advantage and bagged the first set 6-3.
“I am really proud to become the first Pakistani to reach the knockout stage of a grand slam event but my job is still not finished as yet,” he said.
In this desperate times, Pakistani fans may have found an unlikely hero, country needed the cheer, Aisam surely has provided it. The pair now surely has the prayers and hopes of many for his last leg.
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