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US Open 2010: Bopanna and Qureshi's 10. September Interview

Posted by Lana On 9/11/2010 09:15:00 AM

Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (R) of Pakistan and Rohan Bopanna of India celebrate a point against Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S. during the men's doubles final at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
M. AND B. BRYAN/R.Bopanna and A.Qureshi
76(5) 76(4


Q. Although the two of were you not victorious, there's a strong motivation to congratulate you. Congratulations seems almost in order. It would have certainly been better to have won, but you put on a hell of a show out there today. With your respective ambassadors here, your message out on court, I just want to say congratulations.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: Obviously we would love to win the match, you know. But to me, winning and losing is a different matter. I know I gave 100%, and Rohan gave 100% also. So we can easily have pleasant dreams tonight. We had opportunities. I think the Bryans played the big points really well, and they just proved why they are No. 1 in the world and definitely the best team in the history of tennis. I just see this Indo Pak Express winning a long way, and in the future gonna win a lot of titles, as well.

Q. The Bryans said when they came out to practice at 10:15 there were already Pakistanis and Indians everywhere.

ROHAN BOPANNA: (Laughing.) I mean, at least normally in India, you know, they always late. But for a change, you know, they were here early and get ready. Doesn't happen often an Indian and Pakistani playing in the same tournament, gonna cheer for the same team, so I guess they didn't want to miss anything. We're happy they were there early and supporting us.


Q. Do you feel that's the largest crowd you've played for?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I would definitely say. I think there were more people here than the mixed doubles finals, definitely. Yeah, for me, definitely.

ROHAN BOPANNA: Me, as well. I think it was definitely.

Q. I think it was Mike that said in his press conference, he said what you guys are doing is much more important than winning the US Open.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: For me, you know, this whole two weeks for the obviously the reason, for the peace and spreading out the message. But being a Pakistani, we have very tough times. Obviously would say the prize money or the points didn't matter to me these two weeks. My only motivation behind all my wins, and, you know, trying to fight out all of the matches, were to give some good news back home. I just can't thank that this guy right next to me, you know, for sticking with me these two weeks as well, to help me out send some good news back home, which people really needed. I hope that we were able to give them a reason to smile, you know, for the past two weeks.

Q. Have you had any word from Pakistan or India since the match or after the match?

ROHAN BOPANNA: I think we have a press conference set up with all the media back there in I think in half hour, 45 minutes.

Q. Have your family or friends called you or talked to you?

ROHAN BOPANNA: I mean, they haven't. They still waiting to meet me, because we have been held up. You guys got the first priority. (Laughter.)

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I would definitely say yesterday I got a phone call from the prime minister of Pakistan wishing both of us all the best and appreciating what we were doing, especially in these dark times where Pakistan is going through. He really supported our cause, as well. So it was, you know, very encouraging for him to call, especially being me a tennis player. You know, never ever heard anybody calling me.

Q. Do you think this will help or increase in the likelihood of being able to get your match going on the border? Do you think that's a likelihood or something you're just hopeful of?

ROHAN BOPANNA: No, obviously we are -- you know, this is definitely a step forward for us, you know, like the ambassadors of the UN both coming in. Obviously it's both gonna help. So I think we're definitely very positive about the fact it's gonna happen. And as you said, I think for us reaching here and doing well is definitely a positive message to sending across.

Q. Do you live anywhere near the desperate areas?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: No. I wouldn't say luckily, but my families and friends are in Lahore. We're right in the middle. So the floods were in the north of Pakistan. Didn't hit us.

Q. As a team you guys have really progressed, and the Bryans are now speaking about you as someone who will challenge for titles. Is it a bit of a surprise that you are coming to the top so quickly? I know you expected top 5 by the end of this year, I think.

ROHAN BOPANNA: I mean, I wouldn't say that we are up there to the top quickly. We have been grinding around in the challengers for years. We have been playing week in, week out. This is probably the first year, and we knew we had to do it in the Grand Slams to move up in the rankings. Our thing was to come out here and peak well at the slams. Wimbledon was I think one of the good things for us, reaching quarters, and now here. I think Aisam and me just on the doubles, because doubles is not well known. So I think just playing together with Bryans doing so much for doubles already for us as a team I think it helps us also doing so well on the tour.

Q. Is it an ambition now to make the doubles at the O2 now in London? Is that a goal?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: Of course. From the start of the year, we both spoke to each other, and we said, You know, there's no reason we can't be top 20 at the end of the year, and to make it to the Masters, as well. I think we on the right track, especially making it to the finals. It's just taking us closer to that goal, and I don't see any reason why both of us can't make it to the Masters. If we keep playing like this, is gonna be really, really good.

Q. I wanted to ask about the garments that the ambassadors gave to the Bryan brothers. What is that called?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: Actually didn't see, to be honest.

Q. It's like a traditional scarf sort of, and they said it's 5,000 years old.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: They didn't share the surprise with us. I'm not sure what they actually give. Sorry.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the statement about Pakistan that you made after the match? Bryans said you were a little choked after you gave it.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I didn't choke it up. It was pretty heavy talking to so many people. It's not my everyday job to address so many people. I didn't want to take away limelight from Rohan or from the Bryans also. Since September 11, every time I come to the States or western countries I feel people have wrong impression about Pakistan as a terrorist nation. I just wanted to declare that we are very friendly, loving, and caring people, and we want peace in this world as much as Americans want and the rest of the world wants. We all on the same side. There are extremist in I think every religion, but just because of them you can't judge the whole country as a terrorist nation. I just want to get this message across as a Pakistani.

Q. Is it particularly meaningful to you here in New York, because of 9/11, when you play here as opposed to the other places that you say you might feel those feelings, but is it even more here?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I get more trouble in immigration here than anywhere else in the world, that's for sure. I don't think anywhere else in the world I stay three hours in immigration after a 15 hours flight. So, yeah, I would say here I feel the most, I think. But it was just to make people understand that we are all fighting for peace and we are all on the same page. You just can't judge the whole country just because of some groups that are trying to, you know, spoil the whole world, basically.

Q. Did you have problems at immigration when you flew in for this tournament?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: Yeah. I mean, I always do for last ten years. Yeah.

Q. You were teamed with an Israeli player. Is it conscious to use tennis as a platform and convey these messages, or is this just sort of the way doubles works, where sometimes you find a partner...

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: It's very tough for me, because there are hardly any Muslims on the tour anywhere. I'm either going to be playing with a Jewish or a Hindu or a Christian. I don't have any choice. You know, when I played with Hadad also I was saying the same message: you can't mix politics, religion, and conservative sports. That's the beauty about it. If I figure I can do well with either a Hindu or a Christian or a Jew, I would definitely play with them. For the two few years, this guy right here has been helping me with that cause. I'm getting so many loyals and breaking all the records in Pakistan just because of him being next to me. To make it to my first Grand Slam quarterfinal and finals this year, you know, just like icing on the cake that you're doing it with your best friend on the tour. So it's really good.

Q. Obviously your play has helped in this cause, but how surprised are you with the attention that you've gotten here, in particular?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: It's been very overwhelming. I just felt like yesterday and today actually people have been supporting our points also, and they were, you know, clapping for us, as well. It just didn't feel like we were playing Americans. They cheer for us, as well. I heard people saying, Come on Indo Pak Express, and let's go, this this. It was great feeling. That's what makes America such a great country, you know, freedom of all the religions. It's just been a great experience. Like I said before, something I will never ever forget in my life, ever.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your concentration through the game? Also, if you had won the first set, do you think the result could have been different?

ROHAN BOPANNA: I mean, it's tough to say that now. It's tough to say if we had the different result. But, I mean, the concentration was right there throughout all the way. It was just I think one or two points which made a big difference in that first set breaker. Also second set we had a breakpoint right after losing the first set. You know, when Mike was serving we had 15 40. It could have gone either way. So as I would look at it, it was just one or two points here that made the difference. Tough for me to answer if we had won that first set if things would have been different or not.

Q. Had you met your respective ambassadors prior to the garden the other day? Was that the first time you had actually met them?

ROHAN BOPANNA: Yes. That is the first time we met them when they came to watch our semifinals.

Q. Where were you on September 11? What was your reaction when it happened?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I was in Holland. I was in Holland training. It was strange, but I was going through channels, and I actually thought it was a movie or something. I switched the channel again, and then I felt like it was the same movie on a different channel, as well. I was kind of confused. Everything was mostly in Dutch, so I couldn't really understand. Then I actually realized what has happened. Yeah, very shocking moment, definitely.

ROHAN BOPANNA: I was back home in Bangalor, and I was actually driving. I had some friends call me, and, you know, tell me about there's something happened. So I went home and watched the news, and that's when, you know, obviously was really shocked. But something terrible happened.


(via US Open)


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