December 15, 2017 / 12:15 PM / 6 months ago

Tennis - Bedene to switch allegiance from Britain back to Slovenia

LONDON (Reuters) - World number 49 Aljaz Bedene has finally given up on representing his adopted country Britain and will switch allegiance back to his native Slovenia next year.

Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 7, 2017 Great Britain’s Aljaz Bedene in action during his third round match against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

The 28-year-old became a British citizen in 2015 but his hopes of playing in the Davis Cup were thwarted by a rule change brought in by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that prevents players appearing for more than one country.

Bedene, who has lived in Britain for nine years, played in three dead rubbers for Slovenia between 2010 and 2012.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page on Friday he said he had made the decision so that he could try to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — a process that would require him to play in a minimum number of Davis Cup ties in the build-up.

“I want to share with you that I have informed the ITF of my intention to represent Slovenia, my country of birth, from January 1, 2018,” Bedene, who was the British number two, said.

“One of my main goals for my career going forward will be to play in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 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.”

Bedene appealed against the ITF’s decision last year, saying the rule change had been brought in after he became a British citizen, but despite strong support from the Lawn Tennis Association it was rejected.

Claycourt specialist Bedene won 16 straight matches on the ATP World Tour and second-tier Challenger Tour in April but suffered with knee problems towards the end of the season.

His brother Andraz recently became assistant to Slovenia’s Davis Cup captain Miha Mlakar.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis

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