How We Got Here: Aljaz Bedene
by Matt Fitzgerald|
As part of Tecnifibre's ‘How We Got Here' series, Aljaz Bedene looks back on his journey to the ATP World Tour, from the support he received from his family to making his main draw debut at a major tournament this season.
At what age did you start playing tennis?
I started when I was seven.
What is your first memory of playing tennis?
I played with my twin brother with plastic racquets.
What are your earliest memories of watching tennis on TV?
Watching Goran Ivanisevic win the final of Wimbledon.
How instrumental has your family been in your career?
They helped me a lot. It was heavy because I have a twin brother, but they managed to support us both. Even if there were problems with the money, they found the way we could still compete. They believed in us.
Who was your tennis hero growing up?
It was Fernando Gonzalez.
Did you ever string your own tennis racquets?
What was the first tournament you won and did you win a trophy or a prize?
I won tournaments when I was still playing mini tennis. There were a lot of trophies!
What was your first professional event and do you recall what your prize money cheque was?
My first professional event was in Bergheim, ITF Futures event, but I lost last round qualies. But I do recall my first cheque, which was just above €100.
Did you ever think you wouldn’t be a tennis player?
Yes, one time when I broke my leg at age of 12. But as soon as I came back on court, I knew what I wanted to do.
Did you always have access to good equipment?
Yes. I never had problems with that.
Can you remember how you went from playing Futures to the ATP Challenger Tour?
For me, it was quite fast. In 2008 I was injured for more than half the year with a broken wrist. In 2009, I won five Futures titles and in 2010 started to play Challengers. I remember starting again after the injury, I lost some matches I shouldn’t have. I started to doubt myself a little bit, but soon I realised it takes some time.
And then, how did you make the transition from playing on the ATP Challenger Tour to playing more and more ATP World Tour events?
2010 was not my year, because I got injured again, so it delayed my climb to the Top 100 for the next year. In 2011, I won my first Challenger in Barletta and then I went higher, although I again didn’t play for four months due to a wrist injury. 2012 was my year, as I won four Challengers and my ranking was high enough to have the chance to play ATP World Tour events.
What was it like playing your first Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open this year?
I started the season really good with a semi-final at the Aircel Chennai Open. It was the first tournament I had my Tecnifibre racquets. I felt good in Australia, but it was something new for me. I lost after a good fight against Benjamin Becker. I felt devastated after that loss, but in matches like this, players need experiences. That was my first best of five set match.
What is the most memorable tour-level match you have been a part of?
Playing in the semi-finals on the Centre court in Chennai against Janko Tipsarevic in January. I think I got a lot of people liking my game after they saw me there.
What advice would you give to the top juniors or young players who are at the Futures level at the moment?
Going from juniors to Futures level is a big step. Everyone basically starts from zero. Even if they were not on the top in the juniors, with hard work, everything is possible. If they were top, nothing is certain - they have the talent, but now, it starts the hard work. Never lose the faith. By gaining experiences, they will climb the rankings.