Aisam ul Haq faces loss in the first round of Australia Open Men event

To the 2016 season, Aisam ul Haq Qureshi, Pakistan’s lone flag bearer in the international tennis arena suffered the worst possible start, on Thursday losing out in the first round of the Australian Open Men’s event.

Aisam and his partner Jonathan Marray were not able to hold serve just when they just when they were finding some rhythm and were guilty of making too many unforced errors in the second set.

Aisam ul Haq Qureshi has been Pakistan’s lone flag bearer in tennis for quite some time now.

The 35 year old has racked up 11 doubles titles but the defining moment of Aisam’s career was undoubtedly the 2010 US Open final.

In an exclusive interview, Aisam talks about the state of the game in the country, the prospect of playing with Sania Mirza and the day he took on Roger Federer in a doubles match and triumphed.

As tennis greats Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams prepare to take part in the Australian Open, the New Zealanders next door are bracing for some hard hitting cricket entertainment when the Kiwis take on the Shahid Afridi led Pakistan side in a series of T20s and ODIs.

Before he heads to Australia, Aisam took a break from his tough training routine and instead joined the cricket team’s practice session as they prepare to take on the world’s most feared T20 side at present.

Pakistan’s top tennis player Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi is flying the country’s flag at the Australian Open, and the star linked up with the cricket team after discovering he was in the same hotel as them in Auckland.

The 35 year old Aisam felt that the Pakistan cricket team looked in great shape to present a challenge to New Zealand.

“All the players looked like they were gelling and it was a very friendly atmosphere on the field with them. I wish them luck for the series,” said Aisam.

Earlier, on the tennis courts of a posh Islamabad country club, veteran coach Mahboob Khan Drills his charges, but they aren’t dreaming of the pristine lawns of Wimbledon.

For these young Pakistanis, taking up tennis has a more practical application as a ticket to a top US university on a sports scholarship.

In a 36 year coaching career Khan, still a striking, athletic figure at 65 has produced dozens of players who have played on the pro tour and in satellite events and represented Pakistan at the Davis and Fed cups.

He reached the US Open doubles final in 2010 with Indian partner Rohan Bopanna, but a new generation of youngsters at the Islamabad Club courts shows little interest in following in his footsteps.