Bopanna’s decision to part ways came as a shock to me: Aisam
Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, one half of the Indo-Pak pairing, tells The Indian Express why he’ll miss playing with the Indian. Excerpts:
You won your first Masters title with Bopanna earlier this month but now you have to look for a new partner.
* The partnership is over. For me, I would have liked to continue because I had such a great year with Rohan. But I didn’t have any say in the decision. I was just told to find a partner. It definitely came as a shock to me. I know the Olympics is a big thing and it is a huge goal for me as well but my thinking was that Rohan will want to play with either Mahesh (Bhupathi) or Leander (Paes) for about three to four weeks before the Olympics. I was not expecting it will be a matter of changing partners for the whole year.
Will it take time for you to adjust to the new set-up?
* When I was told about this two-three months back, I had two choices. I could either feel sorry or move on. And I decided that I have worked really hard for the last ten years to be in the top-10 (doubles) and even in this new scenario I need to do my best to maintain that. Ever since I started taking doubles seriously, I have played only with Rohan, so it will be tough and a new start for me.
What aspects of your partnership with Bopanna will you miss?
* A lot of things. The main thing about our pairing was that we got along so well off court too. It was almost as if tennis was secondary. We understood each other and that translated into complementing each other on court. I was more of a serve-and-volley player and brought finesse into our game, while Bops was a powerhouse with his big serve and big forehand and backhand. We have known each other for 15 years. So I hope it is not going to harm our friendship and we can still hang out together.
The end of the partnership also means end of the Indo-Pak Express.
* I’m very proud of what we have achieved together off court. There are very few teams that have global recognition as doubles pair on the Tour — the Bryan Brothers, Paes-Bhupathi, Nestor-Mirnyi — and in two years we had managed to have an impact. Being an ambassador of peace for my country, having the Stop War, Start Tennis initiative and winning the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award were highs for me.
Both Bopanna and Bhupathi are ad court players. Do you think that could be a problem?
* That is something they will have to deal with. There will be some mix and match initially to see what suits them and either of them will definitely have to make adjustments.
Can we see the Indo-Pak Express coming together after the Olympics?
* No, if things are going well for me with Jean-Julien Roger, I will have no reason to switch. How can I leave him in the lurch? My partnerships are very sentimental for me.