Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi admits that playing at Wimbledon with a mixed doubles partner who has a twin sister can often leave him seeing double, but he’s happy to remain bamboozled if it brings him and his country a first Grand Slam title.
Qureshi teamed up with Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok at Roland Garros and they immediately clicked, reaching the semi-finals despite only squeezing into the draw at the last minute.
However, he admitted that with Nadiia also having twin sister Lyudmyla playing on the tour, it can lead to some embarrassing moments.
“At Roland Garros, I thought I saw her in the gym and I said ‘hey, partner, how’s it going?’ She said ‘I’m not your partner, it’s the other one’,” the 39-year-old Qureshi told AFP.
“Now I see the differences between the two although it’s tough to tell how I know they are different.
“It’s just the look and you kind of sense it. Maybe it’s the way they greet me, I can sense straight away who my partner is.”
Qureshi’s recent fortunes have been inter-linked with the Ukrainian sisters.
He said that when they originally planned to play in Paris, they were just one spot off the cut after Lyudmyla decided to play with Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico.
Ironically, Gonzalez is Qureshi’s partner in the men’s doubles on the tour.
– ‘You can’t kick your sister out’ –
“He had no one to play mixed with so Lyudmyla signed with him — so one sister kicked the other one out.
“I said that you know your’re doing this to your own sister and she was like ‘yeah, yeah, but I need to get in’.”
In the end, Qureshi and Nadiia squeezed into the Roland Garros draw as alternates and went all the way to the semi-finals where they were just two points from making the championship match.
Gonzalez and Lyudmyla were beaten in the second round.
Qureshi, who was a mixed doubles runner-up at the US Open in 2010 with Kveta Peschke, and Nadiia decided to play again at Wimbledon.
“We were the last team in again. The cut was 110 and we were 110, it was pretty sweet.”
It was even sweeter when they made the second round at the All England Club on Saturday, beating China’s Xinyun Han and….Gonzalez.
“It’s hard to get pumped up as me and Santiago have been playing together all year,” said Qureshi, who is still in the doubles tournament at Wimbledon with his Mexican friend.
“I can’t ever remember playing my doubles partner in the mixed.
“I didn’t know we had been drawn against each other. He texted me and said you can’t believe it but we are playing each other, smiley face, LOL and I was like no way!”
But Qureshi added: “My partner was on fire today, she didn’t care who I was playing against, so credit to her.”
Once the Grand Slam season is finished for Qureshi, there will be another big date for him when he leads the Pakistan team into an historic Davis Cup home tie against India in Islamabad in September.
It will be the first time India have played a Davis Cup tie in Pakistan in 55 years.
“It’s huge and it could be my last. Playing singles is tough on my body,” said Qureshi, who made his debut in the tournament back in 1998.
He also played in the most recent tie between the two countries in Mumbai in 2006 when India won 3-2.
“This is historic for us, it will be one of the most memorable ties.
“There will be lots of tension and lots of hype but we are playing on grass and it’s best-of-three.
“We are underdogs but we will fight to the last point and we will see what happens.”