Lock through to ITF Futures semi-finals

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In-form Zimbabwe tennis star Benjamin Lock drew closer to a historic first professional singles title on home soil after he progressed to the semi-finals of the $10 000 Zimbabwe F1 ITF Futures tournament with a gallant 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory over eighth-seeded Frenchman Romain Bauvy at Harare Sports Club yesterday.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

The 22-year-old Zimbabwean, who recently scooped his first singles professional title in Mozambique, is fast emerging the favourite to land his second silverware in the month of June ahead of a crucial Davis Cup encounter against Moldova next month.

Lock’s win sets up a semi-final showdown with American Evan King at the same venue today.

King had to bounce back from a set down to beat South African Lloyd Harris 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in another quarter-final clash yesterday.

The Florida State University-based Lock will need to produce a top-shelf performance to beat King, whose current singles ranking is 1 086, but reached a career high ranking of 426 in July last year.

Now ranked 811 in the world up from 1 270 since the standings were updated on Monday, thanks largely to his Mozambique triumph, Lock needed three sets to overcome the 20-year-old opponent from France, who is ranked 948.

Taking advantage of the home crowd at Harare Sports Club’s Centre Court, the Zimbabwean took an early initiative to win the first set 6-2 before Bauvy claimed the second set 6-3, sending the match into a decider.

The Zimbabwe Davis Cup team member completely dominated his opponent to take the final set 6-1 and wrap up a crucial victory.

In another all-American last-eight duel, third-seed Evan Song recorded a straight sets 6-3, 7-5 victory over sixth-seeded countrymen Michael Grant and will clash with another American, Tyler Hochwalt, in the other semi-final today.

Hochwalt needed three sets to overcome Argentine fifth seed Matias Descotte 6-7, 6-4, 6-2.

After tomorrow’s final, Zimbabwe will host two more events on the ITF Men’s Futures Circuit in successive weeks until July 5.