Aljaz Bedene emerged from a bruising five-set marathon victory over Ivo Karlovic at Wimbledon and declared: “It definitely felt like a home win.”
Obviously I didn't want to leave because it did feel good. I wanted to give something back, as well, because they were supporting me. Aljaz Bedene
The Slovenian-born player is a British citizen but has not been accepted into the GB Davis Cup settup despite a long fight by him.
But the reaction he got from a packed No.3 court on the first day of this year’s Championships show the GB crowd love him, chanting his name and clapping at the end.
He said: “Obviously I didn’t want to leave because it did feel good. I wanted to give something back, as well, because they were supporting me. I don’t mind giving a few selfies and autographs. That was my contribution to them because I just wanted to say thank you to all of them who came out and supported me today. It was quite a long match, sometimes a bit boring probably, serve, serve, serve. But, yeah, it felt really good.
“I’m a British citizen and I love playing here. I mean, it was fantastic being out there. At the end it was full, Court No. 3. I mean, you know, partially was because I’m a British citizen and I get to play on courts like that now. But, yeah, I wouldn’t say it changed anything because I love Britain/”
Bedene, who made only 15 unforced errors, had to battle for over four hours through four tie-breaks to grind out a 7-6 7-6 6-7 7-6 8-6 victory against the big serving Croatian 21st seed who recently completed a record number of 12,000 aces.
He said: “I honestly felt good. We all know how Ivo is serving. You don’t get many chances. Yeah, I mean, mentally I was focused. I think that was the biggest part of the win. If I would slip a little bit away, yeah, probably I would lose in four today. So I’m happy with that.”
Cameron Norrie insisted his first appearance in the senior event at Wimbledon was “a great experience”.
The wild-card Brit was defeated 6-3 6-2 6-2 by 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Norrie, who has been helped by Andy Murray, said: “Such a great experience playing someone like Tsonga. I was happy with the way I started the match. He served great throughout and didn’t really give me a chance to get into the match with his serve.
“I enjoyed every moment. I just wish I could have played and returned a little bit better, but it was all good.
“It was a good learning experience, and I will know next time to work on my concentration and work on my volleys a little bit!
Norrie, world-ranked 221, insisted being first up on the No.2 show court was not a problem.
The 21-year-old, who reached the second round of Eastbourne the week before, said: “I was actually happy being first on. It was nice to kind of get out there first and not think about it too much and just go out and have a swing.”
Tsonga was sympathetic.
The Frenchman said: “I know how it is, how it is difficult to come for the first time on these kind of tournament against a guy who is supposed to be a lot better than you. Yeah, it’s not easy. At the start, he played pretty good. But after that, he had some difficulties to keep the ball in the court. It was more easy for me.”