Andy Murray is willing to do whatever it takes to bring the Davis Cup trophy back to Britain for the first time since 1936 and Aljaz Bedene is willing to do whatever he can to help.
Britain’s No 2 is in the form of his life at the moment, yesterday reaching the second round of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris with a 7-5, 7-6 win over Marcel Granollers. That win will push his ranking up to No 45 or 46 in the world pecking order, a career high position. If he beats John Isner tomorrow, he will edge a couple of places further up the ladder, putting more than 60 places between himself and the next British player on the list, Kyle Edmund who is currently ranked No.106.
But all of that pales beside his ongoing battle with the International Tennis Federation as he tries to persuade the governing body to allow him to play Davis Cup for Britain, his adopted home.
Born in Slovenia, Bedene represented his home country three times between 2010 and 2012 (each match was a dead rubber) but he has been living in the UK since 2008. In March this year, he gained British citizenship but the ITF brought in a new rule at the start of the season which forbids any player to represent two countries in its flagship competition. On November 17, Bedene and the Lawn Tennis Association lawyers will appeal that decision in the hope that Bedene can join Murray in the British team.
In May, Bedene lost his first appeal but this time he is feeling more bullish about his chances. His argument rests on the fact that he had applied for citizenship, and that application was being processed, before the new ITF ruling came in.
But, if he wins his second appeal, he will be in an awkward position. At the end of the month, Britain will play the Davis Cup final against Belgium in Ghent. The Murray brothers have provided the bedrock for the team’s success while a strong team spirit forged over the months and the rounds have propelled Britain to their first final since 1978. Bedene does not want to gatecrash that party but, on the other hand, if he were to be asked to play, what would he say?
“There are so many ifs,” Bedene said. “I would probably talk to all of the other boys just to see how they feel about me joining the team for the final. It would obviously be a big thing for me, a big task as well.
“As I said, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just going in. I would prefer to speak to them. But there are so many ifs so we’ll see. Step by step. Firstly there’s the appeal on the 17th. We’ll see how that goes. I still feel confident, yes. I think it will go through if I’m honest, yes.”
Whatever happens on 17 November, Bedene will play his part in the final. Next week, he will work with Murray, practising on the clay at Queen’s Club as the Scot hones his game and prepares his body for the demands of the slower surface.
Murray approached Bedene’s coach, James Davidson, last week to set up the practice sessions and Britain’s No 2 could not be happier to help. “I have only practised with Andy once before, at Queen’s,” he said.
“That was even before I got the citizenship, so that was a year and a half ago. But practising with Andy is always a big thing, so I’m looking forward to it. To play with Andy on clay before the Davis Cup final? I couldn’t wish for more, although I can only practise with him at the moment. But that’s a great thing to do.”