British passport would qualify import Aljaz Bedene for Davis Cup

The world No 108 from Slovenian has played in the last five Grand Slams

tennis correspondent

A 24-year-old Slovenian is set to become the latest import to British tennis. Aljaz Bedene, the world No 108, has been based in Hertfordshire for the last three years and is applying for a British passport.

Bedene, who reached a career-high position of No 71 in the world last year, is a regular on the Challenger tour but has also played in the last five Grand Slam tournaments. His favourite surface is clay.

If his passport application is granted Bedene could be eligible to play in Britain's Davis Cup team, though he has already represented Slovenia in the competition.

Given his current world ranking, Bedene could become a contender for Britain's second singles slot behind Andy Murray. That position has been filled recently by Dan Evans and James Ward, currently ranked No 130 and No 168 in the world.

The Lawn Tennis Association said it was aware that Bedene wanted to change nationality and added: "He is currently progressing with his citizenship application, which will take some time."

A number of players who currently compete as Britons were born and raised overseas. They include Laura Robson, who was born in Melbourne, Johanna Konta, who was born in Sydney to Hungarian parents, and Brydan Klein, who was born in Western Australia and has a British passport thanks to his mother's English heritage.

Defending champion Serena Williams has pulled out of her Madrid Open quarter-final against Petra Kvitova as a precautionary measure due to an injury to her left thigh.

The withdrawal of the American, who has won the title for the last two years, handed Kvitova a walkover into the semi-finals, where she will face Simona Halep or Ana Ivanovic.

With the French Open starting on 25 May, Williams was determined not to put her place at Roland Garros at risk. "I suffered it during my first-round match," she said. "I started to feel better but it is important that I have enough time to rest and recover."

Williams had beaten the Swiss player Belinda Bencic in the first round, before wins over China's Shuai Peng and Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro carried her through to the last eight. "It's very frustrating," she added. "This isn't the way I wanted to end the week."

Maria Sharapova, who lost to Williams in last year's final, rallied to earn a spot in the last four, beating China's Li Na 2-6, 7-6, 6-3.

Li was in control until she failed to convert two break points in the 11th game of the second set. Errors then began creeping into the Australian Open champion's game as Sharapova levelled the match. After an exchange of breaks in the third set, Sharapova broke again, then held serve to win on Li's 43rd unforced error.

Rafael Nadal gave his clay-court doldrums a boost by reaching the semi-finals. The Spaniard had lost his previous two quarter-finals on clay for his worst run on the surface in a decade. But buoyed by a partisan crowd, Nadal beat Thomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2.

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