Pakistani serves up love game
Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi is accustomed to fielding questions that have nothing to do with his tennis. That's the way it goes when you're the lone Pakistani player in an international sport.
Qureshi first made headlines partnering with Israeli Amir Hadad in doubles in 2002. He made more news when he started playing with India's Rohan Bopanna in 2003. Their countries are next-door neighbors, but hardly neighborly. The friends -- referred to on tour as the Indo-Pak Express -- were finalists at the 2010 U.S. Open.
The duo reached the French Open quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Andrey Golubev and Denis Istomin on Monday. Qureshi wasn't asked about being the first Pakistani to reach a French Open quarterfinal. Instead, he was again taking on world politics in light of Osama bin Laden recently being found and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
"I think you can't judge a whole nation on the basis of a few groups of people," Qureshi said. "That doesn't define the whole nation. Pakistan is a population of 160 million people, so just because of a few extremist groups you can't name the whole country as a terrorist country.
"Everyone I know, the people I've grown up with and the people I sit around, want peace in this world. I just hope the international community can understand that."
Qureshi hopes the world will one day see Pakistan differently.
"I haven't played a Davis Cup tie the last four years at home," he said. "I just hope that that can change and that the international community can feel like Pakistan is safe to come to and they can play sports there again."
Honey, we need to talk
After Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final at this year's Australian Open, where she lost to Kim Clijsters, she wasn't able to keep up that high level of play.
Her solution: She needed a coaching change. The problem to her solution: Her husband, Jiang Shan, was her coach.
The sixth seed said she could never just say to her hubby, "You're fired."
"I would never say that," she said, smiling. "I mean, it's tough. You know, the husband/coach. We need a break. Also, after Melbourne, I didn't do well. I need to change the team a little bit to improve me a lot."
Her husband is now her hitting partner. Michael Mortensen of Denmark is the coach on a trial basis.
On Monday, Li came back from 0-3 down in the third set of her fourth-round match to beat Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. She's now reached at least the quarterfinals at all four Grand Slams.
Brothers in Arms
Just because there are no Americans left in singles doesn't mean there aren't Yanks to root for at Roland Garros.
The Bryan brothers -- Bob and Mike -- are the top-ranked doubles team in the world. On Monday, they moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (6), 7-5 win over Teymuraz Gabashvili and Mikhail Kukushkin.
Unlike other Americans, the Bryans don't seem to mind the clay. They won the title here in 2003, appeared in two other finals (2005 and '06) and reached two additional semifinals and three quarterfinals.
Mike Bryan believes U.S. players' aversion to the surface results in them skipping most of the clay court season.
"We're (Americans) geared to hard courts and these guys (Europeans) eat clay for breakfast," he said. "That's just the bottom line and we'll re-suit for the grass.
"I sometimes think it's a little mental," he added of Americans' failures on clay. "A lot of times they come over later in the European season and they don't really get down and dirty. They don't come over and give it a full 100% effort."