By Ros Satar

  • British No. 2 announces he will revert back to Slovenian nationality in a bid to represent his country in both Davis Cup and the Olympics
LONDON, UK – Aljaz Bedene announced in a statement his intention to revert to Slovenian nationality in a bid to play Davis Cup and the Olympics.

 

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Aljaz Bedene, who finished the 2017 season as the British No. 2 one point ahead of Kyle Edmund has made the decision to revert back to his Slovenian nationality, in a bid to represent his country in Davis Cup and ultimately try for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Observers and journalists over the past few years could not fail to have seen the devastating impact on Bedene after his first hearing was denied.

Although Bedene had started the process to become a British citizen before a change to the ITF rules to prevent players from playing for more than one country from January 2015, they remained resolute that Bedene would not be granted a chance to qualify to play for Great Britain, having played dead rubbers for Slovenia in the past in Davis Cup.

He was given leave to appeal, and the LTA supported his application, but in March 2017 in somewhat farcical circumstances, and the effect on Bedene was striking. His form and motivation tumbled seeing him slip to 104 in the rankings and he admitted that he had felt like quitting the sport.

He tweeted this statement on Friday

 

Not a flag of convenience

Despite typically oafish reaction from Dan Evans, it never felt like a ‘flag of convenience’ approach from Bedene. He had moved to the UK to help further his tennis career, he had been heavily involved within the Davis Cup set-up to help hit with the players, and up until recently he had quietly and articulately maintained he wanted to play for Britain.

The decision on appeal hit him hard, and although the LTA maintained they would help him on the somewhat false hope of ‘no reason why a further application should not be made’ the prospect of missing out on most likely his last chance to make the Olympics seemed to be weighing heavily on his mind in Roland Garros this year.

Since getting married and moving back to Slovenia, perhaps it was inevitable that he might have to consider coming back.

 

Harsh criticism at every turn

It feels like the worst side of this country was shown to Bedene at every turn, with ‘team-mate’ Evans being the most vocal as to his displeasure. The fact was the hard-working, quietly-spoken Bedene just spent his time getting on with things, while Evans would have flashes of brilliance and threw his career spectacularly down the toilet after being caught in a doping offence with cocaine.

Andy Murray had always been supportive, but while politics and sport should never mix, the tide of hatred was never far away, and Bedene was never really made to feel as though he would be a welcome addition to the team.

The failed appeal really knocked the stuffing out of him, and it really took its toll on his tennis. He did well to claw his way back up, but there was ambiguity in some of his answers as far back as Roland Garros, forcing him to try and explain his position (and bizarrely making it even more confusing).

 

Then there were two

With Bedene’s decision to switch his nationality back, we are now left with two players in the Top 100, and while at their best Bedene and Edmund chopped and changed their position behind Murray, Edmund will find the focus firmly on him to deliver.

Edmund will mist likely shrug any hint of additional pressure off, but eyes will be keenly on him now as the heir apparent to Murray.

It is a sad day for British Tennis, but Bedene carried himself with quiet dignity in every press conference we attended, and we wish him well.

 

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