ISLAMABAD - Pakistan tennis ace Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi has confirmed that he would partner English No 1 Andy Murray’s brother Jonathan Jonny Murray in the Australian Open and optimistic about his chances of doing well in the grand slam.

Talking to The Nation, Aisam said that he would depart for Australia today (Wednesday). “I along with Jonathan Marray had trained for two weeks in Singapore and we have developed good understanding. He had experience of playing at the highest level and is a really good quality tennis player. We both can win a number of titles together.”

To a query regarding realistic chances of Pakistan against China in the Davis Cup Group-I tie next year, Aisam replied: “Frankly speaking, it will be a real tough test of our abilities. We have already won against tougher opponents in the Group-II and we are fully prepared for the Chinese. Colombo will not be an easy place to play, as clay courts don’t suit us and nor Chinese will prefer that surface. At least, Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) has done the right thing of opting for neutral venue and taken Chinese out of their comfort zone. The conditions in Sri Lanka will be very tough, as sandy courts can disturb both the teams, but I am hopeful that I, along with Aqeel and others, can stage another upset victory against all the odds.”

When asked why female players were not given exemption like males in the upcoming South Asian Games, Asiam said: “I am surprised that players like Ushna Suhail, who is the only Pakistani having both singles and doubles ITF ranking points, Sarah Mehboob, Sara Mansoor and Rida Khalid were not given exemption, as they had performed exceptionally well in the recent national events and are in superb form. Pakistan could have avoided likes of India in the SAF Games earlier round, had they included players like Ushna, Sarah and Sara and could face tough opponents in at least semi-finals. The PTF should select best available option to stand realistic chance of doing well in the SAF Games, or else it could be a lost cause for Pakistan.”

About outgoing year 2015, Aisam said: “The year of 2015 was not really good one for me professionally as I remained unfit for the majority of the year and could not perform according to my abilities. Now I have worked very hard on my fitness and by the grace of God, I am feeling better and obtained almost 100 percent fitness. I am very optimistic about 2016 and looking forward to do exceptionally well in the grand slams, ATP events and Davis Cups for my country.”

Meanwhile, Aisam Tuesday highly lauded Zamurrad Khan for his tremendous efforts and noble work for providing shelter and other basic facilities to the orphans of Pakistan Sweet Homes. Aisam was the chief guest at the tennis court inauguration ceremony held at Pakistan Sweet Homes on Tuesday, which was later named after Aisam for his matchless services for the country in tennis. Aisam also accepted to become the board of director member of Pakistan Sweet Homes and promised to work with the management for the uplift of the orphans and help them learn tennis and turn them into quality stuff.

“I am quite surprised that Pakistan Sweet Homes had such a well-organised set up, they had established a wonderful tennis court, which I would help them in maintaining and further developing in the days to come,” he said.