ZIMBABWE Davis Cup star Benjamin Lock has set his sights on qualifying for one of the four tennis Grand Slams, the 2018 Australian Open as he begins his first calendar year on the professional circuit. BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The country’s second highest ranked player joined the ITF Pro Circuit in July last year following a successful college career in the US at Florida State University.
Now ranked 510th in the world — his highest singles ATP Tour ranking since turning professional — Lock needs to significantly improve his ranking and be in the top 250 by December to stand a chance of competing at the Australian Open qualifiers early next year.
“When I turned pro in July 2016, my goal was to make the Australian Open 2018 and that remains my number one focus. My target this year is to improve my ranking so that I move from ITF Pro Circuit to the ATP World Tour,” Lock said in an interview with Standardsport.
The Black siblings — Byron, Wayne and Cara — as well as former double specialist Kevin Ullyett remain the only Zimbabweans to have hoisted the flag at the Grand Slam in recent years.
The 23-year-old ace also reflected on his first six months on the ITF Pro Circuit which yielded a singles title on home soil as well as two doubles titles with young brother Courtney in Mozambique and Egypt respectively.
“I think I have had a great six months on the tour, winning a few tournaments; but winning a professional title at home was really special for me and winning two five set matches at Davis Cup, but I’m never satisfied with my game. I’m always pushing to get to the next level and trying to find ways to improve my game,” he said.
Standing at 2,03 metres tall, Lock dreams about winning Grand Slams and making it into the top 10 in the world ranking before hanging up his racket.
“My ultimate goal is to be top 10 in the world and win Grand Slams. I would also want to help take Zimbabwe to the world group of Davis Cup,” he revealed.
But first things first, Lock has to make do with a gruelling ITF Pro Circuit. After spending the last five weeks competing in Turkey, he will be in Egypt in the next four weeks starting tomorrow for four IT Futures tournaments.
The Zimbabwean will also spend another three weeks in USA next month going into April.
Lock will play an integral part in Zimbabwe’s bid to regain promotion back to the Davis Cup Europe/Africa Group II in 2018, following a 3-2 loss away to Georgia in July last year.
The rising star will be part of the Africa Zone Group III promotion tournament that will feature 15 nations from July 17-22 in Egypt.
The other nations vying for promotion to the Europe/Africa Zone Group II include Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria and Rwanda.
These countries will be placed in four pools and winners of each pool will play against each other, that is, winner pool A versus winner pool C while the top team in pool B will take on the best team from pool D.
The respective winners of these play-offs will be promoted to the Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2018.