For a nation devastated by floods, rocked by terrorism and embarrassed over a cricket corruption scandal, Pakistanis are pinning their hopes on an unlikely sporting star to give the country something to cheer.
After a month of fasting for Ramazan, Pakistani Muslims will celebrate Eid this weekend and also pray that Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi can add to the festivities by becoming the first tennis player from his country to win a grand slam title.
Tennis tends to slip under the radar in cricket-mad Pakistan but Qureshi has already raised the sport’s profile by breaking new ground for his country after reaching the U.S Open mixed doubles final and semi-finals of the men’s doubles event.
“I know how important my performances are right now for my countrymen. I am eager to give them something to celebrate about after the floods and cricket scandal,” Qureshi told a private news channel from New York.
“I am really proud to become the first Pakistani to reach the knockout stage of a grand slam event but my job is still not finished as yet,” he said.
Pakistani cricket fans have been left disheartened by the latest controversy to befall the side, a spot-fixing and betting scandal in England that has led to the suspension of test skipper Salman Butt, and pacemen Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.