Aljaz Bedene Back On The Tennis Court At Vrhnika Open

Dmitry Suboch and Aljaz Bedene (photo: Florian Heer)

VRHNIKA, May 31, 2024

The ITF World Tennis Tour is currently underway in Slovenia for a three-week men’s clay-court swing. When taking a closer look at the doubles draw of this week’s Vrhnika Open, one name stands out: Aljaz Bedene. The 34-year-old Slovenian is competing his first tournament since the 2022 Davis Cup World Group II tie against Estonia.

Bedene, a winner of 16 ATP Challenger Tour singles titles, reached a career-high ranking of World No. 43 in February 2018. Since retiring from professional tennis at the end of the 2022 season, the Slovenian has transitioned into a different role within the sport. Bedene has been involved in various capacities, including coaching, mentoring young players, and participating in exhibitions and charity events. He also wanted to face new professional challenges, having already created a football player representation agency.

At the Vrhnika Open, Bedene teamed up with his new protégé Dmitry Suboch. The 17-year-old Slovenian competed in his first main draw on the Pro Circuit. Suboch lost his opening round match in singles to Daniele Minighini of Italy on Wednesday and the pair also fell in the first round of the doubles draw to the all-Italian combination of Leonardo Rossi and Luigi Sorrentino on Friday.

We met Bedene and Suboch ahead of their doubles match for an interview.

Tennis TourTalk: Aljaz, it’s nice to see you back on a tennis court. What was the reason for competing in this tournament?

Bedene: The reason is Dmitry. I have been working with him for a few months now and he asked me to play with him here. I said of course, if he behaves nicely (smiles). So we play here and I am happy to be back.

Do you practice with him on a daily basis or how does it work?

Bedene: We play together as often as possible but I also try to help him from the side of the court.

How is it to get support from a former Top 50 player?

Suboch: It’s really good. Maybe sometimes I don’t appreciate it enough. I lived in Portoroz but since I have been working with Aljaz, I kind of live in his house and I am based in Ljubljana.

How would you describe your own game style. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Suboch: I play with a lot of power and speed but yet I am not that consistent enough. I still do a couple of mistakes that are not supposed to be done.

What are the main challenges coming from junior’s to senior’s level?

Suboch: I don’t see that much difference to be honest. It’s mostly about the mental part. That can make it difficult.

Aljaz, you had a lot of success in tournaments in Slovenia. What are you memories of playing on home soil?

Bedene: I played one of my first Futures in Slovenia. I earned my first ATP Ranking point in Koper and won my last Challenger in Portoroz 2019. There are a lot of good memories competing with a lot of good players. I also played a Challenger in Ljubljana. I lost the semis to Grega Zemlja, he won the tournament. But we won the doubles title together. It was a great atmosphere and I think Ljubljana needs a strong tournament. Now we are in Vrhnika, which is close to Ljubljana and it’s going to be fun.

What happened since you decided to retire from professional tennis?

Bedene: I had an agency but then I changed and became the president of football club Ilirija Ljubljana. I help the athletes on the mental part. I am also involved in tennis, helping Dmitry and a few other guys. I love sports in general and so I think I am staying for a while.

So there is chance to see you back on the tour as a regular again? Maybe as a coach?

Bedene: Yes, definitely as a coach. It all depends on Dmitry. He is a very good player. Tenniswise he is probably better than many of the players here but he still needs to work on his mental state. Together we try to improve that and we can also travel together.

Dmitry, what are you goals?

Suboch: For this year it’s mainly to get into the Top 100 of the Juniors to earn many junior spots at Futures next year. To reach the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings would be really nice.

Thank you and all the best.

Interview: Florian Heer