Aisam has eyes set on Madrid after Barcelona triumph

]KARACHI: Pakistan tennis ace Aisamul Haq Qureshi has his eyes set on winning the Madrid Open after triumphing at the Barcelona Open on Sunday.

The 37-year-old is looking to improve his ranking and aims to get back in the top 30 doubles players in the world.

Aisam had a tough season last year as without a steady partner to play with, he ended up finishing as the 40th-ranked player in the world at the end of the season. That ranking also deprived him from participating at the London Masters.

“It is great to win the title; I want to win as much for Pakistan and make our people proud,” Aisam told The Express Tribune. “Over the last year, I’ve really been struggling with my ranking and that was something I wanted to change. By the end of last year, I told myself that I would need to work my hardest in order to get back among the top pack of the players in the ATP circuit, because it is that difficult, we have many consistent players who are doing very well, and surely I want to be up there.”

The Lahore-based player is hoping that the ATP 500 Barcelona Open, where he partnered with Romania’s Florin Mergea, will prove to be a turning point.

He not only defeated the top pair in the world — Henri Kontinen and John Peers — in the quarter-finals, but also overcame his former partner Jean-Julien Rojer along with Horia Tecau in the semi-final to finally lift the trophy.

“In Barcelona, we defeated the world’s best duo then two other top pairs, so it is something very positive. This tournament would help we improve my ranking too.  I felt it is only through hard work that good things can happen,” he said.

The Barcelona Open is Aisam’s second trophy of the year as earlier he won the ASB Classic tournament in Auckland with Marcin Matkowski in January, while the trophy is the 13th of his career.

Aisam has been struggling to get a steady partner at the international doubles circuit too, but he added that with Mergea, the two are playing the best tennis and they will be playing together in Madrid Open too.

He emphasized that not getting another player for the whole season is tricky but he is not taking that as an excuse for the slump in the rankings from last year, while with the win at Barcelona his ranking has moved up five spots to 26.

“I hope we play together as a team; I just told myself that I can’t use that as an excuse,” said Aisam. “We’ve got five days to start preparing for Madrid Open as well which is starting on Monday and we will try to give our best results there too. Finishing the year at London Masters among the top eight teams is still very much a goal for me. I hope I will be able to do that with Mergea.”

By Natasha Raheel Published in Express Tribune

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