Monte Carlo Masters 2016: Aljaz Bedene refuses to give up Davis Cup hope and accuses ITF of mistreatment

Bedene has been ruled ineligible to represent Great Britain in the Davis Cup but says he deserves an apology from the ITF

Aljaz Bedene is determined to represent Great Britain in the Davis Cup
Aljaz Bedene is determined to represent Great Britain in the Davis Cup

Aljaz Bedene is not giving up in his quest for eligibility to represent Britain in the Davis Cup. Bedene, who beat Lukas Rosol 6-2, 6-3 here in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters to earn a second-round meeting with Rafael Nadal, said that the Lawn Tennis Association was considering its options in the light of the International Tennis Federation’s confirmation last month that the world No 60 would not be allowed to play for Britain because of his previous appearances for Slovenia, where he was born.

Bedene, who has lived in Britain for eight years and now has a British passport, played for Slovenia in three dead rubbers between 2010 and 2012. The ITF, which runs the Davis Cup, changed its rules on eligibility at the start of last year so that players cannot now play for a second country even if they have changed their nationality. However, Bedene and the LTA have argued that he should be allowed to play for Britain because he submitted his application for British citizenship before the new rule was introduced.

An appeal against the ITF’s original decision was turned down last month and Bedene said he was wary of taking his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because of the potential cost. “I heard [it would cost] £100,000,” Bedene said. “I would pay if it’s affordable, but £100,000, that’s not affordable.”

However, Bedene said that Stephen Farrow, the LTA’s Head of Legal, was still looking into the case. “I think the best thing to do now is to see where there is a chance,” Bedene said. “I really hope there is a next step. I don't want to give up.”

Bedene, who feels he was given insufficient time to push through his request for a British passport, is disappointed not to have received an apology from the ITF over its handling of his case, which has dragged on for many months. In November he travelled to Prague for his appeal hearing, only to be told that it was being postponed for four months.

“I haven't received any apology,” he said. “It’s not right. I actually accept the new rule, the way it is now, because I think it's fair. But I was waiting from 2012. I really wanted this. The way they treated me wasn't the best because I could have done it earlier.”

Bedene withdrew from the Miami Open citing a wrist injury

Before arriving here Bedene retired from his previous match at the Miami Masters with an injured wrist. He believes that the problem was partly caused by all the pressure he had been under because of his eligibility case.

He did not pick up a racket for 10 days after returning home but started practising again last week. “I just wanted to see how the wrist is,” he said. “It's improving, so that's good.”

Bedene said he was enjoying being back on clay, which is his favourite surface. “I felt from the first day that I can play well here,” he said. “I delivered it today, which is good.”

Nadal, who had a first-round bye, has won the Monte Carlo title eight times, but this will be the Spaniard’s first match of the European clay-court season. “It's never a good time to play someone like him, but if I can pick any time, this is it,” Bedene said. “It's going to be fun. I'm not the favourite, but if I play my best tennis I have a chance.”

Rafael Nadal will make his first appearance on clay this season against Bedene

Andy Murray has invited Bedene to join him at his training camp in Barcelona next week. Bedene also helped the Scot with his clay-court preparations before last year’s Davis Cup final.

Murray won his first-round doubles match here playing alongside his Davis Cup colleague, Dominic Inglot. They beat the Spaniard Marcel Granollers and the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-4. Inglot is playing with Murray because his ranking would not have been high enough to make the field with his regular partner, Robert Lindstedt.

“I thought we played well,” Murray said afterwards. “We returned well. There were a few games where we didn’t make many returns, but then the games where we did break we both returned really well. And I think between us we only missed a handful of volleys in the match. We made it very tough for them. Dom served very well, too, which got us a lot of free points.”

Andy Murray made a winning start in the mens' doubles alongside Dominic Inglot

Murray, who was playing his first match of the year on clay, added: “It’s obviously different playing doubles on clay rather than singles in that there’s not as much sliding and moving, but I felt like I hit the ball pretty well.”

After a first-round bye Murray will play his first singles match here against the Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert, who beat Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4.

Murray and Herbert have never played before. “I hit with him a couple of times at the Tour Finals last year,” Murray recalled. “He’s gained a lot of confidence from doing really well in doubles. He still plays that offensive game in singles and tries to come up to the net. I think having a lot of good results in doubles last year has given him a lot of confidence in his game. He’s played some very good singles this year as well.”

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