By Sports Reporter
IN-FORM rising tennis sensation Benjamin Lock put on a spirited performance to inspire Zimbabwe to a comfortable 3-1 win over the visiting Syria side in a crucial Davis Cup World Group II playoff tie at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
He recently clinched his maiden ATP Challenger Tour doubles in Australia.
The 27-year-old played an important role, winning his two singles matches before combining with his sibling Courtney Lock in the doubles.
Lock’s exploits were crucial for Zimbabwe as they overcame a first day scare triggered by injury to the country’s number two player Takanyi Garanganga.
The two teams went into Saturday’s third match deadlocked at one all after Garanganga’s replacement, young Mehluli Sibanda lost to Syria number one Hazem Naw on Friday morning to give the visitors a shock 1-0 lead.
Zimbabwe’s top player Benjamin Lock however restored parity on the first day to rekindle the hosts’ hopes with a 6-3 6-3 victory over his opponent Amer Naow.
On Saturday, Benjamin Lock stepped up again to team up with his young brother Courtney to beat the Syrian pair of Naw and Yacoub Makzoume 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 and hand Zimbabwe the lead for the first time in the tie.
After a short break, Benjamin Lock produced another dominant performance in the fourth rubber of the contest against Naw which he won 6-4, 6-4 in straight sets to seal victory for Zimbabwe.
The dead rubber was not played as Zimbabwe had already taken an unassailable lead.
The victory means Zimbabwe retain their place in the World Group II while Syria slump to the less fashionable Group III.
Zimbabwe’s non-playing captain Gwinyai Tongoona was pleased with his team’s victory.
“I am very happy and proud of this team for winning this tie. When we lost Takanyi some people began to doubt but we pulled through. The guys kept a good attitude, it was a tough match but we won at the end,” Tongoona said.
Tongoona also singled out Benjamin Lock for special praise after he won all his matches to set up Zimbabwe’s win.
“He is valuable to us. He won the first day, won in the doubles and won the reverse singles fixture. Three matches he won for us, so that is very important for the team,” he said.
“We have youngsters in the team and they are starting to play a bit more, Mehluli played a live rubber which is very important for him. Hopefully when we play in September, Takanyi will be back to full fitness,” Tongoona added.
Zimbabwe will hoping for another home tie when they are drawn against the losing teams from Group I playoffs in matches scheduled for September this year.