Aljaz Bedene informs the ITF he is turning his back on Britain to pursue Olympic dream | Tennis | Sport

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The world no. 49 moved to Britain in 2008 because he felt hampered by the lack of ambition in the Slovenian tennis federation.

After a long battle, he was finally given citizenship in the UK in 2015, but the ITF refused to recognise him as a British player because he represented Slovenia in a couple of Davis Cup dead rubber matches before moving to the UK.

A long legal battle subsequently failed and in May at the French Open he let slip that he might consider going back to his homeland because, having watched the Olympics in Rio the previous summer, he was frustrated that there was no way of competing all the time he tied his colours to the British mast.

Subsequently he moved back to Slovenia and married long-term girlfriend Kimalie and today’s announcement had long been anticipated.

Writing on Facebook, Bedene said: “Hi everyone,

“I want to share with you that I have informed the ITF of my intention to represent Slovenia, my country of birth, from the 1st January 2018. One of my main goals for my career going forward will be to play for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I have proudly called Britain my home for the last 9 years and so many people there have made me feel welcome both in the UK and abroad. I am also particularly grateful for the support the LTA have shown me in that time and in fighting my case for the GB Davis Cup eligibility.

“It was a dream of mine to be able to compete for a country that has given me so much in the Davis Cup.

“At this stage in my career, I do not want to miss the opportunity to compete in the Davis Cup and the Olympics, two events that mean so much to me and that is what has informed my decision.

“This has not been easy and again I would like to thank everyone for their support. I look forward to seeing all my friends and fans on Tour next year.”

Bedene leaves with the best wishes of the Lawn Tennis Association with British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith having built up a strong rapport with the 28-year-old during his legal battle.

The clay court specialist, who also reached the third round at Wimbledon this summer, was also an occasional hitting partner for Andy Murray and other British players.



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