Andy Murray's practice partner creates nationality furore

Slovenian born Aljaz Bedene has applied for a British passport

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The Independent Online

One of Andy Murray's Davis Cup colleagues does not believe that Aljaz Bedene should be allowed to play for Britain, but the Wimbledon champion took the chance here to run his eye over his possible future team-mate.

Bedene, a Slovenian who has applied for a British passport after living in Britain for six years, practised with Murray as the Scot prepared for his first match at the Aegon Championships this afternoon against France's Paul-Henri Mathieu. The world No 132 gave Murray a lengthy work-out on one of the outside courts, building up a good head of steam under glorious sunshine.

Dan Evans, the British No 2, believes that Bedene should not be allowed to play for Britain because he has already represented Slovenia in the Davis Cup. Bedene disagrees, pointing out that he has only ever played in dead rubbers in the team competition.

"I really love living here, I love British people, I feel like I'm at home," Bedene told the BBC. "I feel I have been living here longer than six years, I have felt British already for a few years."

Evans however, believes there is a principle at stake. "He's played Davis Cup for a different country and I just don't think it would be right if he played Davis Cup for our country," Evans said. "I have nothing personal against him. He's a good guy."

Dan Evans, in action at Queens, is opposed to Aljaz Bedene playing for GB after representing Slovenia (Getty)

Players from other countries have switched allegiances in the Davis Cup before and a number of men and women have represented Britain after changing nationality, including Greg Rusedski, who originally competed as a Canadian, and Johanna Konta, a current member of Britain's Fed Cup team, who was brought up in Australia by Hungarian parents. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that Leon Smith, Britain's Davis Cup captain, would consider Bedene for selection, even if the 24-year-old's passport application is successful.

There were plenty of photographers at Murray's practice session but they had been hoping in vain to see the Scot work under the eye of his new coach, Amelie Mauresmo. The Frenchwoman eventually met up with Murray at lunchtime, but his subsequent afternoon practice session on one of the outside courts was cancelled.

Mauresmo's appointment has been generally welcomed in the sport, but Australia's Marinko Matosevic said that he could never see himself employing a female coach. "I don't think that highly of the women's game," Matosevic said after knocking out the 2012 champion, Marin Cilic. "It's all equal rights these days. You've got to be politically correct, so someone's got to give it a go. It won't be me."

Evans was beaten 6-2, 6-3 by the South African, Kevin Anderson. "He played really well," Evans said afterwards. "He served a hell of a match."

James Ward, the other Briton left in the tournament, also went out. The Londoner, 27, was beaten 7-5, 6-3 by the world No 13, Grigor Dimitrov, who was watched by his girlfriend, Maria Sharapova.

Evans and Ward will be among those hoping for good news when Wimbledon announce their first wild cards today. In the absence of the injured Laura Robson, the only Britons who will play in the singles competitions by dint of their world rankings are Murray and Heather Watson.

In recent years the Lawn Tennis Association has recommended that wild cards are given only to British players ranked in the world's top 250. If those criteria were followed men's wild cards would be given to Evans (world No 139), Ward (155), Dan Cox (214) and Dan Smethurst (243). The British women to benefit would be Konta (110), Naomi Broady (163), Samantha Murray (238) and Tara Moore (248).

Konta enjoyed her best win of the year when she beat the world No 39, Japan's Kurumi Nara, 6-3, 6-1 in the Aegon Classic at Edgbaston. Konta is the only Briton left in the tournament after Watson and Broady were both beaten.

Konta now plays Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak, who beat Watson 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Watson had three match points when she served at 5-3 in the second set but Wozniak held firm. Broady was beaten 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 by the Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

The Russian player Andrey Kumantsov has been banned for life after being found guilty of 12 charges under the sport's anti-corruption code relating to match-fixing and betting.