Bailey lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 in one hour 52 minutes although at one point it had seemed the 25-year-old from Norfolk, who is ranked 321st in the world, would become the first Briton to win the 107-year-old event in half a century when he was a break up in the final set and serving for a 4-2 lead.
However he immediately lost his serve after crucial errors on a backhand volley and a forehand drop-shot. 'It all hinged on that game. If I hadn't made that bad backhand and tried that cocky drop-shot things might have been different,' Bailey said.
Nevertheless it was a heartening display by Bailey, who served with accuracy and power, sending down seven aces in 10 deliveries at one point. His volleying and backhand returns were crisp and consistent.
The final marked Bailey's return to full fitness after 18 months out of the game with a knee ligament problem. 'I've done it through hard work and I must try and become more consistent. And the money from this week will come in handy,' he said.
Bailey completed a tiring day in the men's doubles final which he and Mark Petchey lost 7-6, 7-5 to Jason Stoltenberg and Neil Borwick of Australia.
On Saturday Navratilova had secured the 164th tournament win of her career by defeating Kristie Boogert, of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-3, in the women's final.
Results, Sporting Digest, page 31Reuse content