RISING tennis star, Benjamin Lock will be hoping to get off to a winning start when he gets Zimbabwe’s Davis Cup Euro Africa-Africa Zone Group II campaign underway at Harare Sports Club’s this morning.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Lock, who is the country’s highest ranked player, was drawn to play Turkey’s number two player, Altug Celikbilek, in the opening rubber of a contest, which is expected to set the tone for the potentially thrilling tie.
Lock, who turns 25 early next month, is three years older than his Turkish opponent, who will be making his debut in the competition, but at 463 in the world‚ the Zimbabwean is 41 spots lower on the world rankings.
The Florida State University graduate said he was confident of getting the home side to a good start after an impressive finish to the 2017 season on the professional circuit and a solid start to the New Year.
“I’m feeling good. I’ve had three weeks of preparation playing professional tournaments, so I feel very confident under pressure situations,” Lock told reporters after yesterday’s draw.
“I’ve played a lot of matches and have actually played a lot of the Turkish guys, so that gives me a lot of confidence because I know what’s coming. That being said, they also know what to expect from me, but playing at home is a huge honour for me and it really is a huge advantage.
“The crowds are always amazing during the Davis Cup and the conditions we have here with the altitude and the heat it’s really gonna be a slight advantage for us.”
The second rubber will see seasoned Davis campaigner and Zimbabwe’s number two player, Takanyi Garanganga taking on Turkey’s top-ranked player Cem Ilkel.
Tomorrow, action will get underway with the doubles rubber, where Lock and Garanganga will take on the Turkish pair of Sarp Agabigun and Tuna Altuna.
The doubles will be followed by the two reverse singles pitting Lock against Ilkel and Garanganga versus Celikbilek.
In the new Davis Cup format being trialled this weekend, the tie will be played over two days instead of the usual three days and each of the five rubbers will be best of three instead of five sets.
Captains may make player changes to any rubber up until an hour before the game commences using any player from the five nominated at the draw on Thursday.
The two nations last met in 2008, with Turkey running out 3-0 winners then.