Aljaz Bedene: Slovenian player has felt British 'for years'

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Bedene explains why he wants to play for Britain

Aljaz Bedene - the Slovenian-born player who wants to play Davis Cup tennis for Great Britain - says he has felt British "for a few years".

The 24-year-old set up a base in the United Kingdom in March 2008 and will qualify to play for GB in February if his passport application is successful.

"I really love living here. I love British people. I feel like I'm at home," Bedene told BBC Sport after his comeback from a wrist injury ended with a first round defeat in the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club.

"I feel like (I have been) living here for longer than six years, and now I just want to bring back to Great Britain. I feel British already for a few years," he added.

Bedene's chances of securing a passport in time for Britain's first round tie next March are said to be 50-50. His other major task is to convince existing members of the Davis Cup team that he has a right to be considered. Those conversations have not yet begun.

"Not with the ones at the top. Not Andy yet. But I've spoken to my friends - like David Rice, Ed Corrie - they seem keen, although I don't know what they're thinking when they are not with me.

"But I think in the end they will accept me. I see myself as a British player, and I hope they recognise that as well."

When the BBC first revealed Bedene's intentions last month, the current British number two Dan Evans tweeted: "So a guy is becoming British who has already played for his country. Doesn't quite sound right to me!"

"There were a few negative comments about that, but I just played dead rubbers," Bedene says of the three previous ties he played for Slovenia. "I never actually played a live rubber so I wasn't really fighting for a country in the way I wanted to. So I want to play for Great Britain in a live rubber if I get a chance and I think there's nothing wrong with that."

Bedene also argues that competition for places is a good thing. He says he's not in it for the money, and doesn't think his change of nationality would be unfair on existing British players trying to make a living from the sport.

"This always is an issue. If you get a player who at the moment is ranked higher than they are, it brings a certain tension but I think a good motivation for them as well - as it does for me. So I think it should work for both sides."

Bedene will play in Wimbledon qualifying next week in an attempt to rebuild a ranking which has fallen from last year's career high of 71 to 132 after a succession of problems with his wrist.

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