Zimbabwe’s hopes of being promoted to the Davis World Group 1 were cruelly ended after they lost 3-2 to Uruguay in their rain-interrupted World Group II Playoff tie at Harare Sports Club on Monday.
Entering the extended fourth day of the tie deadlocked at 2-2, after the second and third day’s play was suspended due to rain during the decisive reverse singles, Zimbabwe’s number two player Courtney Lock gave it everything when he returned to the court on Monday morning.
Lock would have been confident of closing out the tie against Uruguay’s Ignacio Cariou which resumed at a set apiece and 1-1 in the third set, but he was ultimately edged out in 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the marathon match.
Earlier, on Friday’s opening day, the hosts got off to a slow start after Courtney lost 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 20 minutes against Uruguay’s number one Martin Cuevas in the first singles match.
Courtney, who is usually a doubles specialist, had replaced Mehluli Sibanda as the home team’s number two singles player on the eve of the tie due to medical reasons.
With the visitors going 1-0 up, however, Zimbabwe’s number one player Benjamin Lock hauled the hosts back into contention with a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Uruguay’s number two Carou to level the score at 1-1 after the first day’s action.
The hosts, however, left themselves with a lot of work to do on the second day when the Lock brothers, Benjamin and Courtney, lost 6-2 6-4 to Uruguay’s Ariel Behar and Martin Cuevas, in the crucial doubles rubber in one hour 19 minutes.
The loss in the doubles left Zimbabwe needing to win both the reverse singles matches for them to win the tie.
Benjamin Lock ensured that the hosts remained in firm contention after beating Uruguay’s Cuevas 6-4, 6-4 in the first reverse singles to help his side level at two matches all and push the tie into a deciding fifth match between his young brother Courtney and Uruguay’s Ignacio Carou.