NEW YORK (Reuters) - The last thing any international athlete wants to do after a 15-hour flight is spend another three hours stuck in immigration.
When the destination is New York, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi has little choice but to take the annual inquisition at the airport in his stride as he happens to hail from Pakistan.
The soft-spoken 30-year-old may, however, have finally found a way to secure a fast-track passage through U.S. immigration — a U.S. Open runners-up trophy.
The next time the Lahore-born Qureshi boards a flight to the United States, he might want to tuck the engraved silver plate he was given on the Arthur Ashe Center Court on Friday into his suitcase to prove his status as a world-class tennis player.
“I get more trouble in immigration here than anywhere else in the world, that’s for sure,” Qureshi told reporters after he and Indian partner Rohan Bopanna were beaten 7-6 7-6 in the men’s doubles final by Mike and Bob Bryan.
“I don’t think anywhere else in the world I stay three hours in immigration after a 15-hour flight. So, yes, I would say here I feel the most. I always do (have problems at immigration), for the last 10 years.
“Since September 11, every time I come to the States or Western countries, I feel people have the wrong impression about Pakistan as a terrorist nation,” Qureshi added on Friday, the eve of the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the U.S.
“You just can’t judge the whole country just because of some groups that are trying to spoil the whole world.”
Writing by Pritha Sarkar in London; Editing by Clare Fallon