Aljaz Bedene switches British alliance back to Slovenia

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) Aljaz Bedene is returning to play tennis for his native Slovenia after competing for Britain since 2015.

The 49th-ranked Bedene said Friday he has notified the International Tennis Federation that he will compete for Slovenia as of 2018.

Bedene’s decision was prompted by his desire to compete in the Davis Cup and the 2020 Olympics, which he could not do under the British flag after losing an appeal with the ITF.

”At this stage in my career I don’t want to miss the opportunity to compete in the Davis Cup and the Olympics, two events that mean so much to me,” the 28-year-old Bedene said.

Bedene, who received British citizenship in 2015 and has lived in England since 2008, was the country’s No. 2 behind Andy Murray.

ITF rules that entered into force in 2015 prohibited Bedene from playing in the Davis Cup for his adopted country because he already competed for Slovenia in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Bedene appealed against the ITF decision, arguing that he had applied for British citizenship before the rules were changed, but his appeal was turned down.

”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,” Bedene said in a statement.

Bedene reached a career-high ranking of 45th in November 2015, but has never won an ATP tournament. He has twice reached a final, in Chennai in January 2015 and in Budapest in April.