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July 1, 2002

Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Can you sum up the appearance at Wimbledon? Did you like it?

AMIR HADAD: It was very good. We start in the qualifying. We qualify two rounds. We were four match points down in the last round. We won two matches in the main draw. We had a tough one today, but I'm very happy for Aisam, also for myself. Think we played good. We proved that we are in this level.

Q. And your friend?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: It's been unbelievable. It's like first time I qualified for a Grand Slam, first time Pakistani made it so far, whether singles or doubles. It's been almost like a dream. I played it three years ago in Juniors. Very, very happy to be back. Really happy to play with him also. Probably wouldn't have happened without him. You know, it's been a great experience.

Q. How did you get together?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I know him from two, three years. We've been on the same circuit playing challengers and stuff, but we actually never played together. We just decided during the qualifying to play together this time. We weren't actually sure we were going to get in the qualifying. Somehow we did, and here we are now.

Q. Do you feel any pressures from home? We've read some negative comments from government officials.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: But there was some positive, also. There's going to be negative and positive. But nobody has contact me yet, so I can't say anything about it, you know. I'm going to go home after two months. We see what happens.

Q. As you gain ranking quality now, would you like to play Amir at the US Open?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I would like to. Why not?

Q. With him.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: Actually, we were just talking about it.

Q. You have been?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: Why not. It's first time made it to the main draw of a Grand Slam with him. I played pretty well also. So, yeah, I wouldn't mind, for sure. Actually, I don't like to interfere religion or politics into sports. You can't do this, you know. Have to keep sport as a sport and just enjoy it.

Q. Still isn't there a positive message to come from this, that the two of you can play?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: Actually, when I started, I never even thought it was going to become such a big thing. Actually, we're not here to change anything; politicians and governments do that. We're just here to play the game and enjoy it. But if everybody takes it a positive way, yeah, I'll take it. Why not?

Q. What do you think of that?

AMIR HADAD: I mean, like Aisam says, we came to play tennis. When he asked me to play, we didn't even think it's going to get so big. There is some people that maybe want to make some headlines, say bad things about this. But I see it only positive that two guys from different nationality can play together. We are good friends, and I think we're going to keep playing together in the future.

Q. Do you ever talk about politics?

AMIR HADAD: No, not really. We're here for the sport. We're here to improve our ranking, to make some money.

Q. Do you go out to dinner , do you ever?

AMIR HADAD: Never, no.

Q. What do you speak about, sex or what?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: He's got his girlfriend here. I'm not having most of the dinners with him, no. Probably, yeah.

Q. Because there is a different way of eating, there is some prevention for someone of different religion just to please the people wanting to make the headlines.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: No. We've been to dinners, but don't talk about sex actually. But I am not a political person. I don't like politics, actually. He never talks to me about it. But I read papers and stuff, but I'm not really into politics, though.

Q. Had you played with an Israeli partner before?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: In smaller events, Futures and stuff. I know all the Israelis on the tour.

AMIR HADAD: And we all like him. We have no problem with him.

Q. Have you had any reaction from back home?

AMIR HADAD: Yeah, but only positive. I read also in the Internet, all the website. They actually called me a few reporter, and they all say in a positive way that we can play together, and we doing so well.

Q. Did you find a necessity to become more familiar with what's going on in the world, because especially your two countries have played a leading role in world politics within the last year? Did it change anything in your opinion in the way you were watching news and so on?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: As I said, we are not here to change anything. Nobody has contacted me from Pakistan. I just read it on the Internet and he told me. I was a bit shocked. I don't know, if someone contacts -- last night a reporter called me from Pakistan. But he said all the media is backing me up. That's the most positive thing I have just heard.

Q. Is there an increase, a general increase, in interest in politics since Pakistan and Israel have gained more and more headlines in the news for the last year or so?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: It's tough to say. I don't -- I don't really know how to answer it actually.

Q. If the sporting director of the Federation made the comment, if it came down to it, the Federation said to you, "You're going to be kicked out of the Federation unless you ditch your Israeli doubles partner," you were given that choice, which choice would you make?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: That's their own loss. If they want to stay in Group II or lower levels, fine. I'm going to stay for them and play for them. If I believe I could do well with Amir in the big events, Grand Slams, I'll stay and play with him. Why not?

Q. No one wants to mix politics and sports. But in our country, ping-pong led to very good relations with China. Right here at this court many years ago, a British jew played with an African American, which led to great successes for Althea Gibson. Are you aware of either of those two instances and could you comment on that?

AMIR HADAD: I mean, like I said before, I mean, doesn't matter where we came from. I mean, we are tennis player, we are here to play, to improve the ranking. And I think if something good can come out of it, it's even better.

Q. What about your tennis today? You got sort of blitzed in the first set, then played pretty well the next two sets. Were you just that much below or what?

AMIR HADAD: No, I mean, today it was different condition, it was a little bit windy, little bit cold. Took us I think a set and a half to warm up. Then we start playing better. But against these players, it's tough. You have to be ready, you have to play good from the beginning of the match. You can't just come in the last set and try to play good and win the match. I mean, they are very experienced players. They took the chance. But we can learn from this and hope in US Open we can go one level more.

Q. What were you looking for in a doubles partner? Why did you pick each other?

AMIR HADAD: I mean, we know each other for long, long time. I know Aisam is very good on grass, have good serve, good volley. I pick him up only because his talent and his skills in tennis. And I also like him as a person. It's always fun, you know, to be with somebody that you like on the court. We have fun together, and that's it. I think this combination, you know, lead us to where we are now.

Q. Is sport more important to the both of you than religion is?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: That's a good question. Depends. For me, it's very tough to be as religious as I want to be. Tough to pray five times a day. I try to do, be as religious as possible. But sports, it's tough. You have to find a happy medium between that, I think.

Q. If it's Ramadan ...

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: When I'm away from home, it's very tough for me. When I get home, I try to do. But my parents don't want to because it's a very big weight problem. They don't want me to lose a lot of weight (laughter).

Q. Who is Pakistan's No. 1 player now?


Q. Right now.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I am. There is no one with world ranking. I am the only one in the world ranking.

Q. Amir, can I get your answer?

AMIR HADAD: I mean, I'm trying as much as I can to keep my religion, like about the food, to eat kosher food. But it's very tough when you travel all over the world. You have different food. When you have matches, you have to eat properly before the match. I mean, for me, I don't pray at all, but I practice a lot... Hopefully when I quit tennis, I try to maybe do little bit more.

Q. There are quite a few Israeli players on the circuit. How difficult is it for you guys, considering what's going on at home?

AMIR HADAD: I mean, you always see the news. It's always sad to see, you know, people get killed for nothing. But we trying to stay positive all the time. Maybe it's going to be good in the future. Hopefully it's going to be good.

Q. Where are both of you living right now?

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: My whole family is Lahore, Pakistan, but I practice in Amsterdam. My coach is from Holland.

AMIR HADAD: I live in Ramla, Israel.

Q. Where is that?

AMIR HADAD: Close to Tel Aviv.

Q. Have you had any direct problems with bombings near you?

AMIR HADAD: No, not yet. Hopefully not.

Q. You talk about improving your world ranking, but you're wearing a sponsor cap. That is a sponsor of yours (referring to Mercedes-Benz cap)?

AMIR HADAD: Hopefully now they going to see and give me some car.

AISAM-UL-HAQ QURESHI: I don't have a sponsor.

Q. (Question regarding Palestinian players)?

AMIR HADAD: No, because there is no Palestinian player. Not yet. Maybe in the future.

End of FastScripts….

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