LAHORE: Pakistani tennis ace Aisam-ul-Haq is returning home today (Wednesday) after a successful campaign in the recently-held US Open in New York.
Aisam is scheduled to land at Lahore Airport at 7:30pm, where scores of supporters are expected to greet him.
The entire nation eagerly awaits his return and has made preparations to welcome him in his hometown of Lahore.
Aisam was runners-up in both the men's doubles final and mixed doubles final in the US Open in New York last week. He is Pakistan's most successful tennis player, as the 'Indo-Pak Express' of Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna secured the number 6th spot in ATP World Rankings.
Aisam's success has been celebrated with great enthusiasm and his efforts lauded by his fans and family. Aisam's parents say that he should be welcomed back as a national hero because that is what he deserves.
A national hero is what Aisam has come to be; the tennis star has given Pakistanis something to celebrate in a time where the country is ravaged by the worst floods in its entire history. Pakistani spirits have been further dampened by the recent cricket spot-fixing imbroglio that has led to the suspension of star players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir. The Pakistani cricket team's overall performance in its Test/ODI/T20 series against England this month has been dismal, giving fans little to celebrate.
Aisam's success in the US Open has earned praise and appreciation from local and international writers.
Aisam-ul-Haq, a 30-year-old Pakistani tennis sensation has proved that through the beautiful platform of sport one can achieve success not only in terms of winning a match or a tournament; but also by spreading the message of peace, love and tolerance through the game. This year’s men’s doubles final at the US Open has been a great exemplar of that. (Christopher Mayers)
A Pakistani blogger wrote:
Cricket has let us down, hockey has near-faded from memory and football has yet to emerge, but Aisam has shown us that with enough courage, integrity and hard work, our country is capable of producing people of caliber whom the whole world can look up to, regardless of the challenges we may face along the way (Tennis in Pakistan? Who would have thought!). Here’s hoping to seeing some of that same passion in other fields as well. (Jahanzaib Haque)
Aisam's speech at the end of the mixed doubles final was a proud moment for Pakistanis as he delivered a heartfelt message about Pakistan's image.
"My parents are watching in Pakistan and I love you all," Qureshi said. "I want to say something on behalf of all Pakistanis. It is the wrong perception that Pakistan is being a terrorist country. We are a loving, caring people and we want peace as much as you guys want it. May God love us all."