After falling to emulate his heroics at last year’s US Open by a step, Aisamul Haq Qureshi has now set his sights on the London Masters while still hoping to land a grand slam before retiring from tennis.
Aisam, who finished runner-up in last year’s doubles event at the US Open with Rohan Bopanna of India, failed in his semi-final clash against Poland’s Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) and bowed out of the tournament.
However, the defeat has only made his resolve stronger as the doubles number 10 eyes a prestigious grand slam title.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,” Qureshi told The Express Tribune. “It was extremely stressful because we were in control until the rain disrupted the match. I believe we gave it all emotionally and mentally in the quarter-final.”
‘Rain ruined progress’
Aisam, who was seeded fifth in the tournament along with Boppana, termed the defeat disappointing knowing fully well that the trophy was around the corner. He said the pair had been drained after they only had a one-and-a-half hour break between the rain-delayed quarter-final match and the last-four clash.
“Had we finished the quarter-final on the first day, the result would have been different,” said the 31-year-old. “The Polish players have been among the top 10 for the past five years and they were very consistent plus their match was decided on Thursday.
“It’s not an excuse on my part but Iosing the semi-final was just devastating.”
‘Grand slam is my goal’
Aisam, who was unable to protect his 1,000 ranking points, said that he was confident of bagging a major tournament before he decided to hang his boots.
“We couldn’t defend our 1,000 points but I’ve seen enough ups and downs in my singles career that these defeats can’t stop me from believing that I can win a grand slam next year. It’s a goal and I’ll not give up till then.”
Over to London Masters
Aisam targeted a place at the London Masters in December where only the top eight players take part.
“I will make up for the US Open loss at the London Masters,” said Aisam. “Once I’m there, I’ll forget about the US Open. It’s going to be an honour for me as a Muslim and the first Pakistani to be a part of that tournament.”
Replying to his critics who have termed his run at the 2010 US Open as a fluke, Aisam said that the duo has proved them wrong by being in the top 10 players in the doubles rankings. He said that people needed to understand he has competed alongside the best in the world and reaching the final rounds of these events proves their worth.
While Aisam heads to Bangkok to stay in shape, Bopanna will take a break with the duo’s next assignment in Tokyo next month. The two players will be hoping to regain the sort of form which took them to a Grand Slam final against Bob and Mike Bryan only a year ago, the highlight of their careers.
Indo-Pak Express’ performance
Australian Open - Third-round loss
French Open - Quarter-finalists
Wimbledon - First-round loss
US Open - Semi-finalists
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2011.
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