Aljaz Bedene loses latest appeal to play in Davis Cup for Great Britain

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Aljaz Bedene's hopes of playing Davis Cup tennis for Great Britain have been dashed once again after he lost his latest appeal.

Bedene, who was granted a British passport last March, presented his case to the International Tennis Federation board on Sunday.

He said: "Of course I am very sad with today's result and that it has not gone the way I had hoped. I would like to thank all the fans, my team and the LTA [Lawn Tennis Association] for continuing to support me all the way. I will have to assess my situation now before I decide on what steps to take next."

Bedene has fallen foul of a rule brought in at the start of 2015 preventing players competing for more than one country in the competition.

Because he played in three dead rubbers for his native Slovenia between 2010 and 2012, he is ineligible to represent Britain. Bedene, who has lived in Hertfordshire since 2008, began the process of switching nationality prior to the rule change, but the ITF rejected his claim last May.

He appealed and the case was due to be heard at an ITF board meeting in November the week before Britain's Davis Cup final against Belgium. Bedene and LTA lawyer Stephen Farrow travelled to Prague to present their case only to be told the hearing was being postponed until the next meeting last weekend.

It was a highly unsatisfactory episode, but both Bedene and LTA refused to speak out in too strong terms in the hope that would play in their favour.

Bedene was unable to travel to Moldova because he was playing in a Challenger Tour final in the United States, but he got up at 5am to argue his case via Skype, with Farrow representing him in person in Chisinau.

But it was not enough, with the ITF board choosing to stand by the decision made by the Davis Cup committee.

In announcing their decision, the board of directors said: "The board considered all written and oral submissions made by the LTA, Aljaz Bedene, Tenis Slovenia and the original decision maker, the Davis Cup Committee, along with all evidence received before and during the hearing, all on a 'de novo' basis.

"In all the circumstances, the board determined that an exception should not be made pursuant to Article 35(d) of the ITF Davis Cup Regulations. Mr Bedene is not eligible to represent Great Britain in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas."

The decision is a huge personal blow to Bedene, who is also unable to represent Britain in the Olympics, as well as Davis Cup captain Leon Smith.

Smith has spoken in enthusiastic terms about the option of picking Bedene should he become available. The 26-year-old is a clear British No.2 at 57 in the rankings and his prowess on clay would be a particular asset.

Bedene has received support from other members of the British team, including Andy Murray, and was included as a hitting partner for the tie against Japan earlier this month.

But his chances of playing in July's quarterfinal against Serbia have now disappeared and Bedene must decide whether he wants to take his fight to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The LTA has supported Bedene throughout the process, and chief executive Michael Downey said: "We are very disappointed for Aljaz and with the outcome of the appeal hearing on Sunday.

"The LTA has fully supported him in his endeavour to represent the country he rightfully and proudly calls home. In terms of next steps, we will consider the options and continue to consult with Aljaz."