Spot-fixers, cheats, runners up, dopers – the list will go on except for one Pakistani sportsman, who continues to make the right kind sports news year after year. It seems like Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi has taken over the responsibility of lifting the nation’s sporting image. The fact that less people know about his feat of becoming the first Pakistani (among several other firsts) to enter the men’s and mixed doubles quarterfinals at a grand slam tennis tournament, than three Pakistani’s facing the possibility of life bans from cricket is unfortunate, to say the least. Or that the world media is not flashing images of him and Rohan Bopanna – his doubles partner from India – as they continue blasting away the big names of men’s doubles tennis as often as those of the accused cricketers on ill-fated tabloid covers, is also a shame. But then again, it always seems as if success stories here don’t sell as much as controversy does.
When I interviewed him five months back, Aisam proudly told me about his best-ever ATP doubles ranking of 51. He has come a long way since then. Not only has he leapt his way to number 34 in men’s doubles rankings, Aisam and his partner Rohan are the world’s 15th best pair. Add to that their Wimbledon quarterfinal finish, their win over world number one pair of Bob and Mike Bryan and most recently, their comprehensive shock win over number two seeds Nenand Nimonjic and Daniel Nestor at the US Open. The fact that Pakistani masses do not follow tennis is understandable, but for the media to put this lone warrior’s march right at the end of news bulletins, is regretful. This, despite him pairing up with an ‘arch-rival’ Indian player, and making ripples, if not waves, in respected sports magazines.
Being in the top 50 has also enabled Aisam to play mixed doubles on the ATP Tour for the first time in his career. Having paired up with Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic, Aisam has landed himself in two back-to-back grand-slam quarterfinals for the first time in his career.
We keep saying that our cricketers let us down when the nation was in need of some solace from the devastating last few weeks (months, even). Well, here’s a guy who has given us something to cheer about. How about giving him some long overdue appreciation? He may hold a racquet in his hand instead of a bat, but hey, at least he is making all the right moves. He is a man who is doing Pakistan proud so let’s just stop pelting the poor donkeys and put our hands together for the man who is already Pakistan’s most successful tennis player in history. Thank you, Aisam, for giving us a reason to read ‘real’ sports news for a change.
Hafsa Adil is a sports editor at Dawn.com.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.