Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene caused the first major upset at the 2015 Aircel Chennai Open when he beat second seed Feliciano Lopez on Thursday evening in straight sets to send the Spaniard crashing out in the first round.
Bedene is no stranger to Chennai, having been here the last two years. He’s had a tougher road this time around though, having had to come through the qualifiers owing to a dip in his rankings last year.
But he’s always had the potential, and his ranking of 156 is a bit of a misnomer. Incidentally, he has run into Stan Wawrinka on both previous occasions that he has come to Chennai, winning the first time and losing last year after being forced to retire. A third meeting this year could be on the cards again.
We caught up with him post-match for a brief chat.
Q: Was beating Lopez the biggest win of your career?
Well, I guess, yes. I had a win against Wawrinka once, but this was on centre court so bit special.
Q: What do you think helped you get the win over Lopez?
I was more solid from the baseline, I was reading his serves well and I was able to break him more than once. I was feeling good with the serve, there was only one game where I had trouble, where I had break points. But yes, overall I played a great match and was happy with my performance.
Q: Did your familiarity with the surface play a role in outclassing Lopez?
Well yes, of course, it’s always a matter of weighing up the pros and the negatives. You can always take negatives from it, you can say I was a bit more fatigued than he was; it was my fifth match, it was his first. I guess I sort of adapted better you can say, so maybe it worked for me.
Q: Tell us a bit about your application for a British passport and trouble with the Slovenian federation.
Just not listening to me, not actually doing anything for me, they weren’t helping me. I mean, I don’t care financially, they were just not there for me to help me in any way. I’m not there to take the money from them if they don’t have it, but I didn’t feel any connection. They always had their own team. It’s tough, we’re a small country, we should stick together, but unfortunately I did not feel that support.
Q: Are you the only one suffering, or are there more players?
I know that there are couple of other players who suffer the same way. If it gets better, I think they will stay there, because it still benefits them to play for the team. But yes, there are many who are not happy.
Q: Is infrastructure a problem in Slovenian tennis?
We don’t have that many hardcourts, that’s the problem. And indoor season is mostly played on fast clay. So that’s why I’m practising in the UK for a while, so I’m satisfied there.
Q: Who is your favorite player?
I had many favourites earlier, but now it would be Stan Wawrinka. Which is why it was nice to beat him two years ago.
Q: Would you say “See you in the final” to Stan as we sign off?
Yes, I hope so (chuckling).