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Qureshi eyes long alliance with Paes

September 26, 2006 19:12 IST

Aisam Qureshi of Pakistan was supposed to partner long-time friend Rohan Bopanna in the doubles at the Kingfisher Airlines Open. But moments before the draw was announced in Mumbai on Saturday he got a message from India's Davis Cup captain Leander Paes, asking whether he would like to team up with him for the event.

Even before heĀ could clarify the situation with Bopanna, his name was listed on the draw with Paes.

"I had mixed feelings because I had committed to Bopanna. I called him to ask what was happening in Mumbai and he said I am playing with (Mustafa) Ghouse and Leander's playing with you," informed Qureshi, on Tuesday.

"No one says no to Leander, so I am glad I did not have to make the decision myself."

- Also read: Paes may skip singles at Asian Games

Paes and Qureshi, who led their team's fortunes in the Davis Cup relegation play-off tie at the same venue in April, will team up for the first time. Paes's regular partner Martin Damm could not make it to India because of Davis Cup commitments with his Czech team.

Paes, who initiated the partnership, is reported to have said that the pairing with Qureshi is a good example of how sports can transcend borders.

"It is definitely a great honour to play with Leander," said Qureshi, who would like to keep the partnership going. "I want to do well with Leander; hopefully, he will pick me up for more tournaments."

The 26-year-old Pakistani though does not believe that he and Paes have a similar game.

"We serve and volley a lot, but we are different players; he relies more on his quickness whereas I rely on my power."

Qureshi has teamed up with most of the Indian players on the circuit and also reached the Bukhara Challenger doubles final with Bopanna last month.

Though not playing with the 26-year-old from Coorg for this event, Qureshi was happy that Bopanna and Ghouse were able to upset the top-seeds Bjorn Phau and Alexander Peya in the first round on Monday night.

"I am really happy for Mustafa; he got to play with Bopanna. Mustafa's always been a good player; every time I practice with him he seems really good but somehow he puts pressure on himself during matches. He's always tight when he's playing a match, that's the reason he's not able to get the results."

The Indo-Pak pair could run into the third-seeded pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Mario Ancic as early as the second round.

"We would've hoped to meet in the final, but right now will take one match at a time," added Qureshi.

Having arrived in Mumbai only on Monday night from Beijing, where he was playing the Davis Cup, he and Paes don't have enough time to prepare but are hoping for a good tourney.

Deepti Patwardhan in Mumbai