After having looked so motivated coming off a clay court run that catapulted Aljaz Bedene back in the mix of the British players, he was curiously flat against Czech Jiri Vesely. Vesely had also had a storming start to his campaign, upending No. 14 seed Jack Sock in straight sets and he looked to have lost none of that edge as he demolished Bedene’s chance of finding any rhythm in the first two sets.
It looked a far more even affair in the third set. Bedene had never come from two sets down to win, but he looked to be making inroads into that stat converting on the only break point in the set, before closing the set out to give himself a fighting chance of keeping his Roland Garros bid alive.
There was a lot more tension in the fourth set – Bedene failed to convert in six chances he had, and threw in a costly double-fault to be broken by the Czech as he stepped up to serve his place into the third round.
Vesely’s big serve got him out of trouble several times in the fourth set, and with Bedene compounding the situation with a biffed overhead into the net, and when Vesely finally claimed the match point a disbelieving Bedene shook hands before going to check the mark again for himself.
Missed chances, frustration and clarification
Bedene was understandably frustrated about not having made the most of those break point chances.
He said, after the match: “I needed two sets, really, to get into the match. The beginning wasn’t good. Actually, his serves weren’t a problem. I think more that I played the wrong tactic, played too much to his backhand, which is his bad shot. And then I changed that a bit more to his forehand.
“And I think in the fourth set I was better, a better player. And then take it, which is a shame because I actually felt really good.”
The real crux of the press conference though was a chance to give Bedene to clarify his intentions. As we reported after his first round win, he still harbours dreams to represent his country in the Olympics and for now that remains Great Britain.
He explained: “When I said my dream is to play Olympic Games and I’ll see that can be done, I meant I will contact Stephen Farrow and speak to him and nothing else.
“Until it looks like it’s done. It’s not done for me. You know, I’ve been fighting for so long to get a chance to play the Davis Cup and Olympic Games for GB, and I’m still hoping.”
The ITF rejected his appeal in an almost farcical display of rescheduling when Bedene was deep into a tournament, and after denying him a chance to compete, stated that he still would be able to appeal.
He continued: “I haven’t considered [switching back to Slovenia] at all. And as I said, I want to play Olympic Games, but my first priority at the moment is to keep fighting and see what happens.”
Understandably right now the man wants to concentrate on his game. When asked if he felt that turning down Stephen Farrow – LTA’s Head of Legal and also the Tournament Director of Queens, Bedene said his coach Nick Cavaday had determined the best course of action for him.
His decision to play Halle is based on the fact the courts are a little slower and will give him more time there and in ‘s-Hertogenbosch the week before to start preparing for the short grass season.
He said: “I really wanted to play Queen’s. But last year was really bad, and my coach said, This year you’re going to listen to me. And I said, Okay.
“So one of the things is that we’ll skip Queen’s and play Halle instead. Because he doesn’t see me playing there my best tennis. So I listened. Don’t hate him for that. He’s a really nice guy.
“The conditions in general are a little bit slower. I don’t know. We’ll see. If I lose first round, he’s not getting fired (smiling).”
The Ricoh Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch takes place between 12-18 June.
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