KARACHI: In their first meeting since parting ways as doubles partners, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi (along with Jean-Julien Rojer) was unable to beat Rohan Bopanna and his partner Mahesh Bhuphathi in the quarterfinal of the Madrid Open on Friday.
Bopanna and Bhupathi romped home with a straight-sets win, albeit in two closely-fought tie-breaks in an hour and 45 minutes on Court number 7.
Ranked 17th in the ATP doubles team rankings, Qureshi and Rojer made a confident start to the match by holding serve until the fifth game, when the all-Indian pair went 3-2 up with a break of serve.
Qureshi-Rojer, however, made quick recovery to break back Bhupathi-Bopanna at 5-4. The service games were then evenly fought, taking the first set into a tie-break. It was then easy sailing for the seventh-ranked Indian pair, who won the set 7-6 (7-2) in the tie-break.
Riding on the wave of their success over the top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan in the second round, Qureshi and Rojer regained their confidence at the beginning of the second set to make it an even fight. The set swayed back and forth between the two teams, as they sought to book a place in the semis. Eventually, the second set, too, was stretched into a tie-break at 6-6. This time, Qureshi and Rojer put up an improved performance in the tie-breaker but were unable to gain advantage over their opponents and lost the set 7-6 (7-5) and the match 2-0.
This was the first time Qureshi faced his former partner and “best mate on the tour” across the court since the pair split up late last year. Speaking to Dawn.com prior to the match, Qureshi said he would try to take the match “professionally” but was unable to replicate the success he and Rojer enjoyed on Thursday.
The Indian pair were backed up by their strong service game, with 10 aces as opposed to Qureshi-Rojer’s two and held on to three out of the four break-points on offer. Qureshi and Rojer, however, saved one break-point and gave one away in the first set.
The loss will hit Qureshi’s Olympic dream, as he now has three tournaments left to bring his ranking up to 10 from the current (14) in order to qualify.