Pak tennis sensation Aisam gets grand welcome at home

Thursday, September 16, 2010

LAHORE - Pakistan’s tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi received a hero’s homecoming, with government and Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) officials welcoming him with garlands, as his fans raised slogans “long live Aisam” and “our new hero.”

Thirty-year-old Aisam fell short of winning Pakistan’s first Grand Slam title, but reached both the mixed and the men’s doubles finals, and his unusual pairing with India’s Rohan Bopanna in the men’s doubles received accolades against a backdrop of struggling peace efforts between Islamabad and New Delhi, the Daily Times reports.

“I am pleased that I have been able to bring some joy to my countrymen… I didn’t win the titles but I am sure I will do that in the years to come,” said Aisam, who plans to play exhibition matches with Bopanna soon.

PTF president Dilawar Abbas said the Aisam-Bopanna partnership would help in promoting peace between the two countries.

“Aisam success will not only go long way in promoting tennis in Pakistan, but his partnership with Bopanna has already been praised in international media and will help to promote peace between India and Pakistan,” he said.

Aisam’s parents said that they were “proud of his achievement and by reaching the finals of the US Open he has made the nation proud… His partnership with Bopanna has already been praised by the Indian and the Pakistani media, and throughout the US Open Aisam-Bopanna pair got more praise because they come from rival nations.”

In the men’s doubles final, “the Indo-Pak Express” fought hard against top-seeds and world number one pair of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan but lost 7-6, 7-6.

In the mixed doubles final, Qureshi and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic lost in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) against Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber.

President Asif Ali Zardari and millions of Pakistani fans welcomed the news of Aisam becoming the first Pakistani to reach the finals of a Grand Slam event. (ANI)

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