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Lock: Zim’s doubles genius in the making

HIS year ended in brilliant fashion. Six consecutive doubles titles on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Men’s Circuit in two different continents, 23 wins on the trot and towering Zimbabwe tennis player Benjamin Lock is justifiably a proud man.

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

Lock’s target at the beginning of the year was to try and make it to the first Grand Slam of the 2018 season, the Australian Open.

The Zimbabwean will not be at the Melbourne Park next month with the world’s best but it is not for the want of trying. He gave it his all and 10 ITF titles in a calendar year are ample evidence.

After racking up nine doubles crowns this year, it is evident that just like the legendary Black siblings, Byron, Wayne and Cara as well as Kevin Ullyett, Lock is another doubles tennis genius in the making.

Not only will he play at Grand Slams in the near future, but he could emulate the aforementioned before he hangs in his racket.

Zimbabwe has over the years proved to be a good breeding ground for world-class doubles tennis players who have won not less than 15 Grand Slams.

Twenty-four-year-old Lock appears to be the latest product.

“Zimbabwe has good fundamentals for doubles tennis…the likes of Ullyet, Byron, Wayne and Cara Black all won Grand Slams in doubles, which is amazing. But I also think that Byron and Wayne were good singles players,” Lock told The Sports Hub.

Byron was ranked the world’s number one doubles player in 1994 and won in the French Open the same year while Wayne ranked fourth in 2005 and boasts of US Open 2001 and Australian Open 2005 crowns.

Ullyett was Wayne’s partner in the Grand Slams success but Cara is arguably the best doubles player to emerge from Zimbabwe, winning five Grand Slams (three at Wimbledon) and five mixed doubles triumphs.

Lock, who is currently holidaying in the country, spoke about his dazzling form at the end of the season, teaming with American Robert Galloway to complete a hatrick of titles in Kuwait and South Africa respectively.

“The year 2017 for me has been a really good year. I started well and finished well, winning 23 matches in a row.

When we won the first and the second tournament in Kuwait, we were very happy. From there all we did was to enjoy our tennis because we didn’t have any pressure,” the 2,03 metres tall athlete said.

“It was easy to get through each match as it came and before we knew it, we won 23 matches in a row, which was brilliant run for the both of us,” he added.

A year apart, Lock and Galloway are a match made in heaven and their partnership is set to continue into the New Year.

“He [Galloway] is a very good doubles player. We met in California towards the end of the year and he asked me how my schedule was. We decided to play together for the rest of the season and we struck a very good code,” revealed Lock.

“We intend to continue to play together after Zimbabwe’s Davis Cup match against Turkey up until end of May and we are looking forward to some more great results in pursuit of our goal in the new year,” Lock said.

Lock began the year ranked 434 and finished the season on 263, representing a significant 171 jump.

On the singles front, he finished in 449 and reckons it was also a good year despite winning only one title.

“My singles game is not that bad also. I made a number of finals during the year and also won something. Of course I have to work harder but I am happy with the progress I have made,” he said.

His goals going into 2018 are simple.

“The goal is to make a Grand Slam and to achieve that I need to be in the top 100 in doubles and in top 250 in singles, which is achievable. I also want to help Zimbabwe remain in Davis Cup Group II and also move from ITF Circuit to the ATP Tour,” he declared.

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