Qureshi game for match against Bopanna

Last Updated: Sep 17, 2010, 11:49 AM IST

Karachi: Pakistani tennis player Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, whose partnership with Indian Rohan Bopanna has become a global talking point after the duo`s runners-up finish at the US Open, said he would not mind playing against his good friend in exhibition matches to raise
funds for the flood victims.

"Pakistani people have seen so much misery and problems in recent times, I am just happy that I could give them some joy and happiness. If these matches are on I am definitely game for it," he said.

Qureshi and Bopanna have been nicknamed the `Indo-Pak Peace Express` on the circuit. Qureshi returned to the country to a rousing reception in Lahore on Wednesday.

The warm welcome accorded to Qureshi on his return from New York has usually been reserved for victorious cricketers or the hockey team in the past.

Qureshi conceded that he has been overwhelmed by the affection he has been showered with since returning to Lahore.

"It has been amazing my parents had told me the people were very happy with my performances but I could never imagine that such a welcome awaited me in Pakistan," Qureshi said.

The tennis star became the first Pakistani to qualify for the semi-finals of a Grand Slam and Qureshi thanked Bopanna for making this possible.

"I wish Rohan could be with me in Pakistan for this welcome I am sure he would got the same affection and love the people have shown me," Qureshi said.

Qureshi said he was glad that people took note of the message `Stop War, Start Tennis` which he and Bopanna have been trying to promote.

"What make this return more pleasurable is that whatever I have achieved it is because of my friendship and good working relation with Rohan," Qureshi said.

"Sports can be used to mend fences and bring people together. I have always believed that sports transcends all boundaries of religion, politics, caste and creed," he said.

Qureshi also said he had no qualms teaming up with Sania Mirza on the international circuit but this would depend on whether her husband, cricketer Shoaib Malik, would give her permission.

"I know people in Pakistan and India want me and Sania to play together but she has her priorities as well but if something like this can happen, it would be great for the sport in both countries," he said.

PTI