Wimbledon 2015: Aljaz Bedene aims to hit right notes after emotional British debut

Brit (by way of Slovenia) plays Viktor Troicki in the second round

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The Independent Online

It remains to be seen whether Aljaz Bedene or his fiancée will be the first to enjoy widespread fame in Britain, but at this rate the world No 75 appears to be edging ahead.

Bedene, who was born in Slovenia but was granted British citizenship earlier this year, beat Radek Stepanek here on Tuesday to record his first Wimbledon victory and will today attempt to topple the No 22 seed, Viktor Troicki, in the second round.

Bedene lives in Hertfordshire with his fiancée, a singer whose stage name is Kimalie. She used to be a member of Slovenia’s equivalent of the Spice Girls but now works in Britain with the musician and tennis fanatic Jeff Wayne, of War of the Worlds fame.

“They will probably be releasing a song or two this year,” Bedene said. “She has three demos finished and they are picking the best one. And when Jeff heard them he said it was brilliant.”

The singing career has gone on hold for the moment as Kimalie supports 25-year-old Bedene through his first Wimbledon campaign with the letters “GB” after his name. They are staying a short walk away from the All England Club in a house with another showbiz connection.

“The lady who runs the house is an actress, Tessa Wyatt,” Bedene said. “She was married to a famous DJ back in the 1970s. I think was his name was Tony Blackburn.”

Winning his first Wimbledon match as a British player was an emotional moment. “I got tears in my eyes and usually this does not happen,” Bedene said of his five-set victory over Stepanek. “I tried to stay focused for the last game and when I won, it just came out of me. I went a little bit squeaky-voiced.”

Bedene had no complaints about playing in the humble surroundings of Court Eight. “I know you have to prove yourself here,” he said. “It was still the biggest so far for me and I was really happy that I got in a few of my friends. Thank you to Wimbledon.”

He added: “I know Wimbledon is the most important tournament for the Brits and I feel really happy I won. I can’t imagine what that will bring. I just want to focus on the next round. Playing on the TV will help me and perhaps people will get to know me a little  bit more and maybe like me as a player.”

Bedene, who has lived in Britain for seven years, said he had barely been recognised walking into Wimbledon each day but Kimalie told him: “Definitely next year it will be different for us.” However, Bedene insisted: “I still don’t want to be too well-known. I want to be able to enjoy my personal life.”

Andy Murray gave the new British No 2 some advice about playing Stepanek. “Andy told us he does not finish off his volleys, he only puts them in play. And he said he hits a lot of balls down the line from the return forehand. So I picked up a few points here and there. Thanks Andy!”

Although Bedene is registered as a British player he is unable to represent the country in the Davis Cup because he played in three “dead” rubbers for Slovenia between 2010 and 2012. However, the Lawn Tennis Association is appealing against the ruling.

Two other British men are also in second-round action today. James Ward faces the Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely, while Murray takes on Robin Haase. Murray knows the Dutchman, an attacking player who likes to go for his shots, from their days on the junior circuit.

Although Murray has won their last three meetings, which have all been in Grand Slam tournaments, the Scot warned: “He makes it difficult. He likes playing on the big courts as well. He goes for it, which makes things tough.”

Meanwhile if the television cameras go looking for any secret hand signals from Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman, Murray’s coaches, they will do so in vain. Murray said that ever since he had been on the tour none of his coaches had ever used any form of communication during matches, which is  not allowed.

However, Murray related a story from his junior days when he was coached by Pato Alvarez, who worked at the Sanchez-Casal academy in Barcelona. “He used to do signals to a lot of his players,” Murray said. “I was playing a Futures tournament when I was about 16 out in Spain. I won the match but it was a close match. And he went: ‘Andy, what are you doing? You never listen to me when you are on the court.’

“I said: ‘What do you mean?’ He said: ‘I was telling you to serve and volley and you weren’t doing it.’ I was like: ‘You never told me what the signals were.’ He was there at the back of the court telling me what to do and I didn’t know. He is the only coach that I have ever worked with [who has done that].”


Bedene in numbers

8 - Successive first-round defeats in Grand Slams before Tuesday’s victory

16 - Years since there were three British men in the third round at Wimbledon

1 - Previous meeting with Viktor Troicki, losing in Bosnia last year