Indo-Pak Express Break Up

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and India’s Rohan Bopanna announced this week that they have dissolved their successful men’s tennis doubles partnership, which was hailed as a symbol of friendship between the rival nations. Bopanna told the Indian Express newspaper that he will team up with veteran compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi in 2012, while Qureshi will next partner Dutchman Jean-Julien Roger at the Australian Open in January.

“As the season has ended now, I can confirm that I am playing with Mahesh in 2012,” Bopanna said, declining to elaborate on the reason for parting ways with Qureshi after four years. “Who I want to play with is my decision… I did have a successful year with Aisam but now I am starting a new year with Mahesh, and it’s as simple as that.”

Bopanna and Qureshi, who joined hands in an unlikely partnership in 2007, shot to fame when they reached the US Open doubles final last year and are currently ranked ninth in the world. The duo actively promoted better India-Pakistan ties and even offered to play tennis over the land border dividing the two countries, which have a history of warfare and political tension.
Bopanna’s announcement also confirmed media speculation that India’s best-known men’s doubles combination of Bhupathi and Leander Paes, who won three Grand Slam titles, would not play together on the circuit.

Bopanna was non-committal on whether the decision to change partners was due to the London 2012 Olympics. “As of now Mahesh and I have decided to start the year together,” he said. “The Olympics have a lot of other technicalities like form and rankings, and we will see how it goes.”

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Qureshi and Bopanna in World Tour Finals

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2010_10_19-2010_10_19_6_30_29-jpg-34833The Indo-Pak Express of tennis, consisting of Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and India’s Rohan Bopanna, have qualified for the season-ending Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour Finals to be held November 20 to 27 at London’s O2 arena. The tournament will feature the top eight men’s doubles teams in the world, and this will be Qureshi and Bopanna’s first appearance in this prestigious tourney after serving as alternates last year.

Bopanna and Qureshi have been rewarded for their consistent play this year. They won two ATP Tour Titles — at the Gerry Weber Open and the Stockholm Open — and made the quarterfinals and semifinals of more than five ATP 1000 Masters events. The US Open semifinalists, ranked seventh in the world, became the seventh team to join the elite list which will battle it out at the Tour Finals.

“This has been a great year for us, and we are very excited to be playing against the best of the world. All our hard work has paid off and we are glad we met the goal we had set for ourselves earlier this year,” Bopanna told The Times of India. “This would not have been possible without the help and guidance of Shayamal Vallabhjee, Robert Davies and the rest of our team.”

Qureshi added, “We had a great 2011 and we thank all our fans for their constant love and support that has helped us reach these heights. We are looking forward to playing against the best in London. Doing well there would be a great way for us to finish an amazing season.”

The duo are currently playing in the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, where they have a bye in the first round.

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Qureshi and Bopanna Win Stockholm Open

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi  won the Stockholm Open men’s doubles tennis title with a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory over Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares here on Sunday.

It was the top-seeded India-Pakistan pair’s second ATP World Tour title of the season following their victory at the Gerry Weber Open in June and their third title overall as a team. Bopanna and Qureshi are ranked seventh overall in the ATP men’s doubles team rankings, and they added 250 points after their win, thus improving their chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour. There are three remaining spots in the eight team field of the season finale to be held in London next month.

“It feels great to have won our second title of the year and this is the best way to keep ourselves in contention for a berth in London,”announced Bopanna.“Bopanna and Qureshi were the better players from the first to the last ball today. They initiated quite early in the game and Melo/Soares couldn’t quite hang with the pace,” said Tournament Director Thomas Johansson.

After the match Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi thanked his partner and the support of the Pakistanis in the audience.“We hope to come back next year and win the title again,” said Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi after the match. Qureshi and Bopanna are next scheduled to play in the Valencia Open 500 in Austria.

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Qureshi Wins Thai Open With New Partner

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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Pakistani tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi formed a triumphant pairing with Oliver Marach of Austria to go on to win the Thailand Open men’s doubles tennis tournament. Qureshi and Marach defeated the German pair of Michael Coleman and Alexander Waske to clinch the title. The final score was 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5).

Qureshi and Marach were the top seeded team in the tournament, and they gathered enough momentum to lose only one set during the entire tournament. Qureshi said winning in Thailand was a great experience and he expressed solidarity with the flood victims of Pakistan and Thailand.

“I feel very excited and great. Oliver is a great player. He’s been in the Top Ten for so many years. It’s my pleasure playing with him this week. I love coming back to Thailand, where I won Futures and Challengers also,” he told the official website of the Thailand Open.

“On behalf of myself and the Pakistanis at home, we all support the flood victims because Pakistan has been hit by floods as well as Thailand. I wish all the Thai people and the country all the patience and courage to overcome the natural disaster,” he added.

While this was a great accomplishment for Qureshi and his new partner, Qureshi is expected to return to playing with his regular doubles partner, India’s Rohan Bopanna, with whom he has formed the celebrated pairing dubbed “The Indo-Pak Express.”

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Qureshi and Bopanna Fall in US Open Semis

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011_8$largeimg219_Aug_2011_184909403The Indo-Pak Express of tennis once again had a nice trek at the U.S. Open, but was ultimately derailed in the semifinals, as Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and his Indian partner Rohan Bopanna of Pakistan lost in the semifinals to the Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, 6-2, 7-6 (4). Qureshi and Bopanna were hampered by having to complete their quarterfinal match earlier the same day, in which they came back from a 5-2 third set deficit to win. In the end, as they told The New York Times, Fyrstenberg and Matkowski “both have really big games and they served really well and I think that was the difference,” Qureshi said. Qureshi and Bopanna were the number five seeds in the men’s doubles draw, while Fyrstenberg and Matkowski were the sixth seeded team.

After their semifinal match they elaborated further on the secret of their doubles success, telling The New York Times, “Sometimes I go down, I get down, and he’s telling me to stay positive. When he gets down, I keep telling him to get positive and keep the head up,” Qureshi said. “I have learned that even if you’re not playing best with your tennis, emotionally and physically with our attitude and presence, we can beat a lot of teams.”

“We spend more time with each other than family and friends,” Bopanna said. “We’ve known each other for 15 years now.” “For our cultures to be very similar I think it makes it easier for us to be on the court and that I would definitely say is one of the reasons why we have been so successful the past two years. If people can take positive things out of our relationship, our friendship, then obviously it’s a good thing.”

In addition to speaking the same language, Qureshi and Bopanna and like many of the same foods and hobbies. And they often hang out together, dine out together, and go to the movies and play golf together. But they may have a little less time to spend with each other beginning in a few months, as reports out of Pakistan indicate that Qureshi will be marrying his fiancé, Faha Akmal Makhdum, this December.

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Muslim Women With Another Dismal Grand Slam

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-08-30T220145Z_592763968_LM2E78U1P6X01_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-OPENIn what has become a disappointing pattern, the Muslimas of the professional tennis world have once again experienced miserable results at a Grand Slam tennis tournament. This time around it is the U.S. Open, which began this week. India’s Sania Mirza seemed to carry the highest hopes of the bunch, with her WTA singles ranking on the uptick, most recently reaching number 63in the world. But she did not receive the smoothest of draws, facing the number 23 seed Shahar Peer of Israel in the first round. Mirza started off well, taking the first set 7-6 (7-5) from her former doubles partner. But that was it, as Peer stormed back to take the next two sets, and the match, 6-3, 6-1. This concluded what has been a downer of a month for Sania, as she lost in the first round of her last event, the Texas Open. And, she has also spent the last few weeks refuting claims by the Pakistan Tennis Federation that she demanded a $25,000 appearance fee earlier this year for a charity exhibition match for the Lahore flood victims.

Aravane Rezai, of France, had most recently had a run of good play. She made the finals of the Texas Open the previous week before losing to Sabine Lisicki. But because of Hurricane Irene, Rezai had to fly to Cleveland, Ohio and then drive to New York for the U.S. Open. And perhaps all those hours on the road took a toll on Aravane, as she went down meekly to number 26 seed Flavia Pennetta in the first round 6-4, 6-1.

The only spot of good fortune at this year’s U.S. Open amongst Muslim women came via Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova, who dispatched of Tamira Paszek in the first round 6-4, 6-2. And things opened positively on the men’s side, as Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and his Indian doubles partner Rohan Bopanna, opened their tournament with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 over Americans Robbie Ginepri and Rhyne Williams. Qureshi and Bopanna finished as runner-ups in last year’s U.S. Open, and they are the fifth-seeded team in this year’s tourney.

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Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi Falls in French Quarters

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan of USA shake hands with Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan following their victory during the men’s doubles quarterfinals match June 1.

Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and his Indian doubles tennis partner Rohan Bopanna were almost able to slay the dragon that has been tormenting them. That dragon has taken the shape of American tennis playing brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, who previously defeated Qureshi and Bopanna in the finals of the U.S. Open Men’s Doubles tournament this past September. In the 2011 French Open semifinals. the Indo-Pak Express were able to take the first set against the Bryans in a tiebreaker, 7-2. But Bob and Mike roared back and took the second set 6-3. That left a crucial third and final set that once again went to a tiebreaker. However, it was the Bryans who prevailed in this second tiebreaker, 7-3, to qualify for the semifinals. The Bryans, however, went on to lose in the semifinals to the unseeded team of Eduardo Schwank of Argentina and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia.

Qureshi has moved up to a career high of number seven in the world mens’ doubles rankings. But that will be small consolation for him right now as the two of them continue to try to break through with their first Grand Slam doubles title. At least they have gotten back on the saddle after their disappointing end in Paris. The duo have already reached the final of the Gerry Weber Open in Germany just days after their loss.

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Aisam ul Haq Qureshi Falls in Epic French Open Quarterfinal

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi-96269Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and his Indian doubles tennis partner Rohan Bopanna put on quite a show in Paris, but they ultimately fell to their American arch rivals, the Bryan brothers. Qureshi and Bopanna took a stirring first set 7-6, 7-2 in the tiebreaker. But the Bryan brothers rebounded with a 6-3 second set victory. And everything then came down to a third set that once again ended in a tiebreaker, but this time in the Bryans’ favor, 7-3.

In the previous round, Qureshi and Bopanna, the number five seeded men’s team, dispatched of the team consisting of Kazakhstani Andrey Golubev and Uzbek Denis Istomin 6-3, 7-5 in the fourth round to reach the quarters. And in the quarterfinal round the Indo-Pak Express will face their nemeses, the American team of brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The Bryans, in the fourth round, ironically also took out a Kazakhstani, as well as a Russian.

Back in September the Bryan brothers defeated Qureshi and Bopanna in the finals of the U.S. Open, after which Qureshi gave a stirring speech about the plight and misunderstanding of his home nation of Pakistan. This time Qureshi, and Bopanna, were hoping to do all of the talking with their rackets to avenge their previous defeat. But, the defeat notwithstanding, Qureshi and Bopanna certainly got the attention of all onlookers at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris.

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Muslims at the 2011 French Open

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

TENNIS-OPEN/It has been a mixed bag so far for Muslim tennis players at the 2011 French Open Tennis Tournament. Although, there has been a preponderance of sour ingredients in that bag so far. First with the bad, Uzbeki female tennis player Akgul Amanmuradova succumbed in the first round of the ladies’ singles competition to German Sabine Lisicki 6-0, 6-4. French Muslima Aravane Rezai was also a first round loser in her home tournament to Romanian Irina Camelia-Begu 6-3, 6-3, also in the first round.

Indian Sania Mirza was a first round winner in the ladies’ singles over Kristina Barrois of Germany 6-3, 6-3. Mirza was also a first round winner in the ladies doubles with Russian partner Elena Vesnina. Speaking of doubles, the team of Pakistani Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Indian Rohan Bopanna is seeded fifth in the men’s doubles as they wait to play their first match.

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Qureshi Moving Up the Tennis Rankings

April 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Pakistani ace men’s tennis player Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has made significant strides in the world of tennis the past couple of years. He and his doubles partner, India’s Rohan Bopanna, have been steadily moving up the world men’s tennis rankings. Now, Qureshi has achieved the highest world ranking of his career thus far. He has moved up to a career high doubles ranking of number 12 in the world. In addition, he and Bopanna as a team have moved comfortably into the top 10 of the team rankings, having risen to number eight.

Most recently Qureshi and Bopanna were semifinalists at the ATP event at Indian Wells in California. There they beat the well-decorated Indian team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, before being upset in the semifinal round.  They followed that up with a quarterfinal finish at the ATP Masters event in Miami, Florida. At this pace, a top five ranking should be right around the corner. And who knows, the number one spot just may be there for the taking.

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