Aamir hailed as new star of Pakistan squash


Karachi : Pakistani teenager Aamir Atlas Khan can help revive the country’s lost glory in squash after the Peshawar-based player scalped world number one Gregory Gaultier in the ongoing Qatar Classic in Doha, experts said Sunday.

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According to Jansher Khan, Pakistan’s former world number one, Aamir is destined for greater glory and should join the top-five players on the international circuit soon.

“Aamir is a very talented player and now that he has beaten the world number one, he must be really confident and I must say that he is ready to join the top five rankings,” said Jansher.

Aamir, 19, is a nephew of Jansher, the man who holds a record eight World Open titles. The youngster achieved the biggest breakthrough of his professional career when he beat Gaultier of France in what was a stunning upset to reach the quarter-finals of the Qatar Classic in Doha.

The 19-year-old Pakistan number one said he has finally shrugged away his stage fright and will now be gunning for the status of world number one.

“I have probably been lacking the confidence to beat the top guys in the past but now that I have beaten a player of his (Gaultier’s) class, I should be doing it more often in future,” he was quoted as saying in ‘The News’ after toppling the Frenchman 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9 in 53 minutes in the second round of the $147,500 tournament.

“I am confident that one day I’ll reach the number one position, and also the world champion, I’m working hard for it, and one day Inshallah I’ll get there,” stressed Aamir, seeded 16th in the tournament.

Aamir, the son of British Amateur Championship finalist Atlas Khan, was recently nominated for the Young Player of the Year Award by the Professional Squash Association (PSA).

“This is easily the biggest moment of my career,” he said. “I really did not expect it, because Greg has been playing so well recently – he is such a great champion.”

Aamir, who reached a career-high No 13 spot in the world rankings last September, said that he was inspired by the words of his father, with whom he spoke just before the start of the match.

“My father told me, ‘listen, you can win this — you’ve got the talent, you have got the stamina’. I kept focusing on that during the whole match, and thinking how lucky I was to belong to such a squash family. And that really carried me through.”

Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has termed Aamir’s feat as a turning point for Pakistan squash with a PSF official saying that their players can revive old glory. Squash is Pakistan’s most successful nation but has been going through a slump since the exit of Jansher Khan in the late nineties.