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Hard to believe that players throw matches for money: Qureshi

india Updated: Dec 06, 2007 21:24 IST
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As tennis grapples with a crisis of sorts with the match-fixing slur, Pakistani ace Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi says he finds it hard to believe that any of his colleagues would cheat on the game for a few extra bucks.

"If you love the sport then I don't think anybody would ever think of it. Representing your country as a player, you go out on the court to give your best and I don't think anybody would throw a match for money. After all, tennis is a sport which pays you well," said Qureshi.

And if the allegations were true, Qureshi said that would be quite disturbing.

"If it happens then it is unfortunate. It takes away the beauty of the game. It is disappointing for the millions of fans as well. Ultimately it's about respecting the game that has given you so much and I don't think anybody who loves the game would fall to the lure," he added.

The sport has been rocked by allegations of match-fixing at a level as high as the Davis Cup after unusual betting patterns were observed by the ATP.

Russian Nicolay Davydenko is one of the few big names under the scanner for being "deliberately" below-par in some matches.

Qureshi, however, said he was yet to come across a deliberate under-performer in his career.

"At least I have never felt that. In fact everybody seemed to be at their best when I am on the other side of the court," he quipped.

On his personal form, Qureshi, who made a second-round appearance in the Wimbledon, has an ATP Challenger singles title under his belt and four doubles titles with Indian partner Rohan Bopanna, said the year had been one of the best of his career.

"It has been a year of firsts for me. I qualified for my first Grand Slam and made the second round of it, beat a top 10 player (Richard Gasquet) for the first time, reached the quarters of an ATP event for the first time, won my first Challenger title. So it has been a great year.

"I have been reading a few motivational books which has helped my game. My approach has changed as well and I have become a calmer player now. Moreover, it's the hard work of the

past six-seven years that is bearing fruits," he said.

Recalling his second-round match in the Wimbledon against Marat Safin, Qureshi said he ended up giving too much respect to the Russian but added that the experience set the tone for his fine run this year.

"I thought I was better than him in the third set, but missed a few crucial break points. I gave him too much respect initially but then I was playing a former world number one for the first time," he said.

"Inspite of his reputation of being a temperamental player, he was surprisingly calm on that day. In fact I wanted him to fire up a bit but he disappointed me," Qureshi said.

After the triumphs this year, Qureshi, who has jumped 16 places to be 129th in the ATP rankings after last week's challenger win, has now set his sight at breaking into top-100 and represent his country in the Olympics.

"For next year, breaking into singles top-100 would be a priority. I want to play more Grand Slams without having to qualify for them. Representing my country in the Olympics is also one of my long-cherished dreams. I hope to realise it next year in Beijing," he said.

The 27-year-old also said he is open to pairing up with Sania Mirza in mixed doubles once he improves his rankings to the requisite level.

"I need better rankings for pairing up with her. But if an opportunity comes I am open to teaming with her. I think she is a fine player," he said.