LAHORE - Pakistan’s tennis stalwart, Rashid Malik, marked a triumphant return after clinching ITF Masters titles in Pattaya, Thailand, alongside partner Waqar Nisar.
Rashid Malik and Waqar Nisar received a warm welcome from a group of sports enthusiasts, including former Pakistan Tennis Federation Secretary Col (R) Asif Dar, ex-international hockey player Naseem Ahmad, ex-international boxer Tariq Mir, Mr. Ishtiaq Lone, and others at the Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore.
Reflecting on his experience at the ITF Masters in Thailand, Malik expressed, “It was a great experience playing for the first time in the ITF Master 700 event. Being unseeded among top players worldwide, winning both titles boosted my confidence and made me believe I can secure the world title, inshallah.”
Discussing the Pakistan team’s performance, Malik praised players like Hameed-ul-Haq and Waqar Nisar. “Hameed made it to the finals, succumbing to me in the 60+ singles final, while Nisar fought valiantly in the quarterfinals in 65+ singles.
In the tournament, Malik faced a formidable challenge in the semifinals against a former World No 2. Sharing his strategy, he said, “Despite nervousness, I attacked my opponent from the start, applying intense pressure. He collapsed, and I secured the victory in straight sets to clinch the MT700 title for the first time for my country.”
Dedicating his title to Waqar Nisar, Malik acknowledged, “I thank Waqar Bhai for training with me throughout the summer, pushing each other to work harder.” He also extended gratitude to the Sports Board Punjab team, specifically Secretary Sports Shahid Zaman and DG Sports Punjab Dr Asif Tufail, for strengthening the domestic tennis circuit in 2023.
He expressed hope for continued support in fortifying the circuit in 2024, with plans to host ITF Masters events in Lahore alongside ITF Junior events. Looking ahead, Malik outlined his future goals, saying, “In January, I’llparticipate in two tournaments in Delhi and Meerut, India, in 2024. My aim is to engage in more ITF Masters and, inshallah, clinch the world championship in Mexico.”