ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's longest serving No 1 tennis player Aqeel Khan termed his long time dream come true as he traveled with the country tennis pride Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi as his hitting partner first to Doha, Qatar and Sydney ATP and now the big one Australian Open in Melbourne.
Talking to The Nation from Melbourne Monday, Aqeel said: “I am very excited and I had always dreamt of playing in the ATP and Grand Slams, but it was somehow not possible although I am playing tennis for the last two decades, but thanks to Aisam, he made my dream possible by choosing me as his hitting partner. I am already enjoying that role, as we have been playing tennis together for the last 20 years and Davis Cup teammates for the last 17 years. We know each other’s game well and it will be a great experience for me to be present at such an high-profile event.”
Aqeel added: “I always hoped I would also play in the Grand Slams one day, but it was not fulfilled that way. God has given me the opportunity to exhibit my prowess as a hitting coach. It will definitely help my future ambitions of becoming a coach. Though I know tennis very well yet when I witnessed coaches and players at such a high level, it changed my thinking and it will be a great experience I will bring back home. I will use this experience to best of my abilities and pass on the knowledge to the kids back home.”
“I have learnt how and what player do before match, how they get ready. I will suggest Pakistan tennis Federation (PTF) to first provide basic things to the players that is prepare tennis courts as per international requirements and provide balls also of international standard. We played tennis on slow outdated surfaces, which hampered our progress at international level. Let me assure all, upon my return, I will utilize all my experience and pass on the knowledge to the generation next. If PTF supports me, I will help the up and coming players to learn tennis according to international standard,” he asserted.
“We produce good results at Pakistan tennis courts and with outdated balls, but when we go out of the country, the real test starts and we can't even play 50 percent of our game there because we are not use to playing in such fast and bouncy courts,” he added.
“I have a lot of things to share with the PTF how and what we should do to improve Pakistan tennis and bring it on right track. After witnessing the things at ATP and Grand Slam, I would say we are not doing things professionally, and there is a dire need for a lot of improvement. Aisam is doing really well and working very hard. I am playing every day with him and his partner. I am also thankful to Aisam to believe in me and I will do whatever I can to help him, it is very easy for me to work with him because I know him from the last 20 years. I met with one tennis coach in Sydney, who offered me to join his tennis academy as hitting partner, but I would love to work for my country. I didn’t reply him yet, as first I will come back, meet with the PTF president and then decide my future course of action.”
Sharing his views, Aisam said: “I really happy to have Aqeel here with me, so far he has been of great help on the court and surely it helps to travel with someone who I know since I was 14 and playing Davis Cup together for past 17 years. He knows me and my game really well and helping me a lot for the last two weeks. I feel I'm ready for the first grand slam and will do my level best to make it my best year yet.”