KARACHI Saeed Hai, the Pakistani living tennis legend of the yore, has hailed Aisamul Haq Qureshi and his Indian partner Rohan Bopanna for reaching the final of the mens doubles of US Open Tennis in New York and described the achievement of the young Pakistani as good for Pakistan tennis.
Speaking to TheNation here on Thursday after the Pak-Indian pair moved to the final of the event with 7-5(5), 6-4 in semi-final victory over Argentines Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos, Saeed Hai, who played in Grand Slam events in late 50s six times said Aisamul Haqs performance has proved that Pakistani players with personal dedication and hard work could rise to the top of the world tennis.
He said that without the support of his parents, Aisamul Haq would not have achieved what he did at the US Open. He congratulated his parents as well.
Hai, who is also senior vice president of the PTF, hoped that not only Aisam clinches the first Grand Slam title winning the mens doubles but he also wins the mixed doubles to record a Grand Slam double which would be something extraordinary for Pakistan and for his nation. The nation would be praying for his success, he said.
In the mixed doubles semi-final paring with Kveta Peschke of Czech Republic, he defeated Mark Knowles of Bahamas and Anna Lena Greenfield of Germany 7-6(5), 7-6(4).
Hai said he had played Wimbledon three times, French Open twice and the US Open once when he was on international circuit in 50s. While playing in those five start events, he said he could feel how challenging was to play at world level.
Aisamul Haq, he said, was playing at international level for some time and because of it he had enough experience to handle pressure. But reaching the final of Grand Slam event was something extraordinary for a player from a third world country like Pakistan where tennis like cricket, squash and hockey was not a priority sport.
He said he always believed that in tennis, a player has to work hard to achieve good results and Aisam had proved that.
He said Aisam and Bopanna pair could bring Pakistan and India closer in the field of sports. The two yougsters had shown the way to the sportsmen of the two countries that the two could help each other in achieving higher standards in tennis and other sports.
He said it was heartening to learn UN ambassadors of both Pakistan and India, Abdullah Haroon of India and Harpreet Suri (India) were there to watch the two and applauding them as they moved closer to their maiden Grand Slam title.
According to information received here, the two players in post semi-final media briefing had hoped to see the players from two countries facing off in a tennis match on the border.
Both were elated to see their ambassadors watching them.
Bopanna said: We knew, to do well in the big events was the only way to pass on that message. So obviously, for them coming here and watching us play, its a big step for us. Hopefully with that, and, you know, both our countries agreeing we can have that match up on that border.
Aisam said: If me and Rohan can get along so well on and off the court, theres no reason the Indians and Pakistanis cant get along with each other. We just saw the both ambassadors today sitting together. It was really good, he added.
Asked what they discussed with the ambassadors after the match, Qureshi said the two have promised to be back for the final.
To us, they were very encouraging. They just said what we are doing is a great thing together and they both are on our side. They actually said also theyre coming and watching the finals as well for us, so thats a great thing, I think, he said.
Im just very happy and proud to be a part of it. You know, the 'Indo-Pak Express, Im just happy Im on the Indo Pak Express. You know, its really good were getting all the wins, and were somehow bringing the people of both nations together, he added.
Bopanna said he was glad that his pairing with Qureshi was being appreciated by people on both sides of the border.
We are not looking into any political part or anything to do with whatever is happening. Were just trying to see - you know, trying to promote - you know, if like even two per cent or three per cent of people change their minds of saying, you know, if we both can get along why cant they, as well, he said.
I would have to say today was a small step towards it. You know, we always said sports can reach places where no religion or politics or politician can reach. I think its above all the religion and politics, added Qureshi.