That's when tennis clashed with their dual cultures. "I never thought it was going to become such a big thing," Qureshi said Monday after he and Hadad lost their third-round match 6-1, 7-6 (5), 6-4 to Cyril Suk and Martin Damm. "We're not here to change anything: politicians and governments do that."
Qureshi has faced criticism at home, with the Pakistan Sports Board threatening to suspend him for playing with an Israeli. Qureshi said Monday he had not heard from sports officials. "There's going to be some negative and positive," he said. "But nobody has contacted me yet. I'm going to go home after two months, so we will see what happens."
The two, who have known each other for two or three years from playing lower-tier Challenger events, may team up again for the U.S. Open. "It's the first time I've made it to the main draw of a Grand Slam - with him," Qureshi said. "I wouldn't mind, for sure. I don't like to interfere religion or politics into sport."
Hadad agreed. "Like Aisam says, we came to play tennis," he said. "When he asked me to play, we didn't even think it's going to get so big. There are some people who want to make headlines out of this, say bad things. "But I see only positives that two guys from different nationalities can play together. We are good friends, and I think we're going to keep playing together in the future."
Qureshi said he has played with an Israeli partner before--"in smaller events, Futures and stuff. I know all the Israelis on the tour. "And we all like him," interjected Hadad. "We have no problem with him."
Qureshi, ranked 270th in singles and 163rd in doubles, was a good choice for doubles because of both his ability and personality, Hadad said. "We've known each other for a long, long time, and I knew that Aisam is very good on grass, good serve and volley," Hadad said. "I picked him up only because of his talent and skills, and I like him as a person. We have fun together."
Hadad said he had heard only positive reaction from Israel, while Qureshi said he had been told by a Pakistani journalist that the media back home is supporting him. Qureshi said that if he was suspended, it would be the Pakistan Sports Board's loss - "if I believe I could do well with Amir in the big events, I'll stay and play with him."
Both players have trouble combining their religions with the rigors of the international tour. Qureshi said it is "tough to pray five times a day," while Hadad said he can't always find kosher food.
Qureshi lives in Lahore, Pakistan, but practices in Amsterdam with his Dutch coach. Hadad lives in Ramla, an eastern suburb of Tel Aviv. "It's always sad to see people get killed for nothing," Hadad said of the cycle of Israeli-Palestinian violence. "But we are trying to stay positive. Maybe it will be good in the future." And perhaps the unique doubles combination will help, Qureshi said. "We're just here to play the game and enjoy it," he said. "But if everybody takes it a positive way, I'll take it."