The challenge of taking on a former Grand Slam champion proved too big a hurdle in the end, but Dan Evans left Queen's Club last night more than satisfied with his week's work at the Aegon Championships.
Although the 23-year-old from Birmingham was beaten 6-0, 6-3 by Juan Martin del Potro, his victories in the first two rounds over players ranked in the world's top 80 – Guido Pella and Jarkko Nieminen – will send him into next week's Wimbledon qualifying tournament in good spirits.
"This week will put me up the rankings a little, it gives me a bit of a benchmark to try and reach and a bit of a platform," Evans said. "I thought it was a very good week."
Even in losing out to the world No 8 and 2009 US Open champion, there were encouraging signs for Evans. After Del Potro had run away with the first set, the British No 5 made the Argentine work hard for his victory. "I was in all the rallies," Evans said. "I felt pretty comfortable. It was just that I gave him more free points than he gave me."
The ranking points Evans has earned this week could take him up about 30 places from his present position at No 277 in the world. If he had earned the points a week earlier he would have been in line for a Wimbledon wild card, but he now has to try to earn his place at the All England Club via next week's qualifying tournament at Roehampton.
"I'm raring to go," Evans said. "I was playing especially well in Nottingham last week and before that in the two weeks leading up to it on the grass. It wasn't an accident that I won matches here and at Nottingham."
He added: "I think anybody wants to be good at what they do. If you don't like this sort of arena and the atmosphere here, I think you're doing the wrong thing. I guess it's a pinnacle for me for this year."