'A great journey, with a bad ending': Bedene defends nationality switch

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Bedene will play at next week’s Australian Open

Aljaz Bedene insists he has not let anyone down by switching his allegiance back to Slovenia.

The world number 51 became a British citizen in 2015, but has once again opted to play for his country of birth from the start of this year.

The 28-year-old is desperate to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A change in International Tennis Federation rules had prevented him representing Britain in either the Olympics or Davis Cup.

He describes his time in British colours as a “great journey, with a bad ending”.

“It wasn’t because I didn’t like Britain, because I really wanted to play for Great Britain,” he told BBC Sport as he spoke about his decision for the first time.

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t my decision. It was the ITF’s decision. It was tough, but what I did was right. I did everything that I could. It’s a sad story at the end, but it’s a new beginning.”

Bedene says he does not feel uncomfortable to have sworn an oath of allegiance to his adopted country. And he denies he became a British citizen just to further his Davis Cup and Olympic ambitions.

“No, the main reason was I felt I wanted to give something back to the country that gave to me,” he adds. “I was living there, and I felt like I was living there for longer than really I was.

“And I was a bit sad, but I had to decide at the end as it wasn’t healthy for me. I really wanted to play the Davis Cup and the Olympic Games. When things are out of your hands, it is not easy to accept them.”

The former British number two admits it has been a little strange to see ‘Slovenia’ against his name at his opening events of the year in Doha and Sydney. But he hopes British fans will get behind him when he plays at Wimbledon.

Bedene will retain his British passport and still employs the British coach Nick Cavaday. But despite his sadness with how this chapter of his career came to an end, his conscience remains clear.

“I did this with a clean purpose. I want to have a clean relationship with everyone and I have spoken with [the LTA’s Legal Director] Stephen Farrow, who was helping me a lot with that. I did everything I could. They did everything they could, really.”



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