Alfie Hewett was left frustrated after his quest for an elusive Wimbledon wheelchair singles title came to an end against Tokito Oda.
Norwich’s Hewett was up against new rival and world No.1 Oda on Court 1, both men looking for a maiden singles crown at the All England Club.
They had already contested both Slam singles finals this season, the Brit winning the Australian Open and Oda prevailing at Roland Garros, while Hewett had beaten the Japanese, alongside Scot Gordon Reid, in the doubles final.
And the 25-year-old started brightly, surging to an early 4-1 lead, but he was pegged back by Oda in an enthralling opening set.
Ultimately it was the top seed- just 17 years of age – who won five games on the spin to take the opening set, and dominated the second to seal a 6-4 6-2.
“It was obviously disappointing,” said Hewett, who was beaten by Japan’s Shingo Kunieda last year despite leading by two breaks in the final set.
“The performance today, it wasn’t anywhere near what I am capable of or what I have been playing recently. Credit to Tokito, he rose to the occasion, and executed the plan, served well and returned well in the latter stages of both sets. It was obviously a tough one to take.
“I’d got off to a really good start, and felt like I relaxed into the match relatively well. I felt like he then just started going through the gears and took the first set.
“I knew I had a job on my hands but I did well to bounce back and get the break, but three doubles faults at 2-0 – it’s just not good enough. He then ran away with it really.”
Though left disappointed by his performance, there were still positives to take from his Wimbledon experience.
And he already has his sights on the summer, with the final Grand Slam of the year at the US Open – and the LTA’s British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships before that.
He added: “I love New York, it’s a great place with a great atmosphere. I’ve always done well there, so hopefully I can go there and just enjoy it.
“We’ve also got the British Open coming up in a couple of weeks – it’s not much rest, but it’s exciting.
“It’s great for all the British players to have some home support. It’s obviously been amazing this week, hopefully we can continue that into the British Open and it’ll be great prep for the US Open as well.”
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