US-BASED Zimbabwe Davis Cup team payer Benjamin Lock ensured Zimbabwe avoided an embarrassing whitewash on home soil after Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Nerman Fatic retired due to illness in the last Euro-Africa Group II dead rubber match at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Lock had comfortably won the first set 6-3 when Fatic told the chair umpire that he would not be able to continue thereby handing the match to Zimbabwe, who had lost the first four encounters.
“He wasn’t really feeling great. He was struggling with breathing, so he was unable to continue. I wanted him to play anyway because he needs the experience, but obviously couldn’t play all the way through. Ben (Lock) was playing well though,” Bosnia-Herzegovina non-playing captain Amer Delic said afterwards.
Lock, who had looked in control of the match and well set to finally put Zimbabwe on the scoreboard, said he was delighted with the experience of playing at home.
“It’s the first time I’ve played a competitive event in six years. I felt the result could have been different with a few points here and there, but we learnt a lot and it will help us in our next tie here.
“I thought I was playing really well today (yesterday) and managed to close out the first set pretty nicely. I was looking forward to the second set unfortunately he had some health issues. It’s never nice to win by a retirement, but it’s one of those things you can’t control,” Lock said.
Zimbabwe had gone into yesterday’s two singles deal rubber matches hoping to restore lost pride after Bosnia and Herzegovina took an unassailable 3-0 lead with the win in the doubles encounter on Saturday.
However, the day did not start well for the hosts as the country’s top-ranked player Takanyi Garanganga went down to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s number four ranked player Tomislav Brkic 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 5-7 in a tightly contested encounter.
Zimbabwe will now have a chance to stay in the Euro-Africa Group II when they host Moldovia, during the week of July 17 to 19.
Moldovia were trailing Hungary 3-1 late yesterday and Zimbabwe non-playing captain Martin Dzuwa believes his charges would be better prepared.
“It’s obviously disappointing to have lost 4-1, but I still feel we are a good team. I’ve enjoyed working with these guys; unfortunately we could not get the job done in our first tie at home after a long time,” he said.
“The guys were a bit nervous, having not played at home in such a long time, but I think if we manage to play at home again next time the guys now know what to expect.
It was never going to be easy, the Bosnia and Herzegovina players have higher rankings than us and now our players need to play in as many tournaments as possible to improve both game and rankings before July.
“I’m confident we will stay up and credit to Tennis Zimbabwe for trying hard to bring back Davis Cup tennis.”