Aisamul Haq Qureshi’s preparation for the upcoming Davis Cup tie against New Zealand could not have been better, but the Pakistan tennis ace feels the Asia-Oceania Zone Group II tie in Myanmar will be a different ball game altogether.
Aisam clinched the doubles title in Miami with Dutch player Jean-Julien Rojer for his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy after the pair prevailed over eight-seeds Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-4, 6-1.
The pair also clinched their first title of the year after earlier losing in the final of the Open 13 in Marseille, while crashing out in opening rounds at the Dubai Open and Indian Wells.
Despite the confidence-boosting win in Miami, Aisam said the Davis Cup tie posed a challenge as Pakistan eyed a promotion to Group I.
“The win in Miami has given me a lot of confidence,” Aisam told The Express Tribune. “But the Davis Cup is a different ball game. It’s a switch from hard courts to grass courts. But I am looking forward to the tie against New Zealand since our players are good on grass.”
Aisam, who has booked the number 12 spot in the ATP individual doubles rankings after his win in Miami, added that his triumph has set the tone for the rest of the year.
“This sends out a reminder to other players on the ATP circuit that me and Rojer are serious contenders. Reaching the quarters and semis is a big deal and we’ve been doing that quite often. But we haven’t won that many events despite being in the last-four and this win will definitely help us.
“It’s my first ATP title of the year and also the biggest win with Rojer. It’s also my first time I’ve won a title in the first three months of a year so this is special.”
Aisam and Rojer have won two titles – the Estoril Open and Gerry Weber Open. However, a win in a 1000-series tournament is a first for the both of them.
The duo had a poor start to the season when they lost in the first round of the Australian Open, suffering the same fate in Rotterdam before making it to their first final in Marseille.
Meanwhile, Aisam said that playing their Davis Cup match on a neutral venue has increased the team’s chances against New Zealand.
The New Zealand team does not have any player among the top 50 in the ATP doubles rankings and have won two of their previous three ties against Pakistan — but both were won in Auckland. Aisam feels Pakistan should do well against New Zealand when the two teams face each other on April 5.
“New Zealand are a good Davis Cup team and I don’t know what difference my win creates. But we will try our best and hopefully get a good result.
The Pakistan Davis Cup team includes the country’s top-ranked player Aqeel Khan, Yasir Khan and Muhammad Abid along with coach Muhammad Khalid who left for Yangon on Saturday.
Aisam, who faced issues flying out of Miami, said he should be able to reach Myanmar in time for the tie.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2013.