British No 2 Aljaz Bedene announces he will represent Slovenia from January 1

Telegraph Sport
Only Andy Murray is ranked higher than Bedene among British male tennis players - REUTERS

British number two Aljaz Bedene will return to representing Slovenia from  January 1, he  has announced. 

The 28-year-old, who lives in London, became a British citizen in March 2015 and among home players the world number 49 is only behind Andy Murray in the men's professional rankings.

He has fought an unsuccessful battle to be eligible for Britain in the Davis Cup, and he admits that a desire to compete in that event, plus the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, played a big part in this latest move.

He wrote on Facebook: "I want to share with you that I have informed the ITF (International Tennis Federation) of my intention to represent Slovenia, my country of birth, from January 1, 2018.

"One of my main goals for my career going forward will be to play in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I have proudly called Britain my home for the last nine years and so many people there have made me feel welcome both in the UK and abroad.

"I am also particularly grateful for the support the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) has shown me in that time and in fighting my case for the GB Davis Cup eligibility. It was a dream of mine to be able to compete for a country that has given me so much in the Davis Cup."

Bedene's most recent appeal to the ITF over Davis Cup eligibility was rejected in March of this year. He was ruled out because he had represented Slovenia in three cup ties before switching nationality.

He added on Facebook: "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.

Federer vs Nadal - The five ages of tennis's greatest rivalry

"This has not been easy and again I would like to thank everyone for their support. I look forward to seeing all my friends and fans on tour next year."

Bedene's switch to represent Britain was not universally popular, with Dan Evans criticising the LTA for its "desperate" efforts to help him secure eligibility.

Evans, currently serving a suspension after a positive test for cocaine, told the BBC in May: "I don't think (Bedene) really believes he's British either. It's nothing against Aljaz. I like him. He's not confrontational in any way but to me it doesn't sit well if you play for another country.

"I don't feel bad about him, but for me it's a bit baffling as to why."

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes