So, Aljaz Bedene has followed in the footsteps of British number 1 Andy Murray and has made history. He has progressed to the final of the ATP 250 in Chennai and is the first qualifier in the event history to achieve this. As the 5th qualifying seed he got into the main draw progressing through each round without much trouble.
On entering the main draw, he was given a fairly tough route to the final, and had to take out higher ranking players on his way. Firstly disposing of Lukos Rosol in straight sets (7-6, 6-3), in the second round he was up against the 2nd seed Feliciano Lopez, and again he disposed of his opponent in straight sets, this time without the need for a breaker – 6-4, 6-4.
In the Quarter Finals Bedene again had a seeded player, this time the 5th seed Guillermo García-López, this match was a bit tougher as for the first time he was forced to go all the way in a 3 set fight. After dropping the first set 2-6, he pulled it out of the fire to take the next set 6-3 to level the match, a deciding set was on the way. Aljaz took this final set comfortably with a scoreline of 6-3. This meant he had booked his spot in the Semi final.
In today’s semi final he again faced a seeded player in Roberto Bautista Agut. This again proved to be a fight as they exchanged the first 2 sets to the same scoreline, with Bautista Agut striking first with a 3-6 closing. Aljaz was not in the mood to go quietly and fought back to seal the 2nd set by the same scoreline (6-3) so for the second match running he would have to do it the hard way.
In the last set, he was toe to toe with his opponent and held on well to force a breaker. Those of us supporting him (underdog/selfish reasons*) held our breath, as we entered this vital stage of the match, could he hold on and book a spot in the final. Well, it was very tense and he had to save 4 match points, but he did it. He made the final!, taking out 3 seeds along the way. Tomorrow in the final he will yet again face Stan Wawrinka (head to head 1-1) – this will be their 3rd meeting at this tournament! Can Aljaz go all the way and take out the number 1 seed along the way? It’s going to be tough, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t give it a very good try.
Now, those eagle eyed amongst you may well wonder why I’ve written about this, as I write very much about the British tennis players* – well therein lies the clue. Aljaz, although from Solvenia, has lived in Britain since 2008 and is hoping to become a British citizen, all his paperwork is in, we are now just waiting for the boxes to be ticked, this will be great news for British Tennis to have another player who can push for 3rd/4th (and perhaps even 2nd spot, but I’d like James Ward to break into the top 100 this year and win a round or 2 at a slam, more of that in another article), so although he isn’t strictly speaking “one of ours” yet, It shouldn’t be long coming and then we can add him to our numbers and his history to ours