Dan Evans showed why he is British number one with an accomplished display against Kyle Edmund to win the Battle of the Brits final.
Evans, 30, won 6-3 6-2 as he continued the momentum he had gathered before the professional tour was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
This may have been an exhibition event but the quality at the National Tennis Centre has made it a competitive week.
The final was no exception as Evans beat Edmund for the first time.
Earlier in the day, Cameron Norrie won the third-place play-off with a 6-3 7-5 victory over James Ward, who was a late replacement for Andy Murray after the Scot pulled out with a shin problem.
Evans shines in ‘great week’
In the last tournament Evans played before the tour calendar was interrupted, he reached the semi-finals in Dubai and climbed to a career-high ranking of 28.
He has carried this form through this event, winning all of his singles group matches and also reaching the doubles final.
Although he trails 2-0 in head-to-heads on the tour against Edmund, he was favourite to beat the 25-year-old former world number 14.
The pair traded breaks in the opening two games before Evans pulled away with two more breaks in the first set as Edmund’s errors racked up on key points.
An Edmund double fault handed him two set points, the first of which he converted when his opponent sent a forehand into the net.
Evans recovered from an early break in the second, getting the key breakthrough in the sixth game when Edmund sent a shot wide. A hold to love and another error from Edmund on match point sealed victory.
“It has been a long week and a great week,” said Evans, who made only three unforced errors compared to Edmund’s 20.
Evans will be hoping he can pick up where he left off when the ATP Tour resumes in August.
‘Like a Tour event’ – players’ verdict on the event
When doubles player Jamie Murray announced he was going to stage this behind-closed-doors tournament no-one really knew what to expect.
An exhibition event on paper, this week has felt anything but.
The participation of Andy Murray after seven months out added extra interest and a real star quality, but it was also clear that the competition-starved players were hungry for their victories.
“All the players have loved it – that’s the truth. Everyone has been raving about the tournament,” Evans said.
Edmund added: “It was pretty much like a Tour event this week. I didn’t think it would be this big but it turned out really well.”
Domestic events during Covid-19 have been tarnished by last week’s positive tests from Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour, which was brought to an early end after players went to a nightclub, embraced and played basketball together with social distancing eased in Croatia.
But safety rules here appear to have been strict, with no ball kids, temperature checks, players bumping racquets at the net rather than shaking hands, and coaches sitting on separate benches. Of course, it may be a few more days before we will know whether there ended up being any positive coronavirus tests.
It may not be the last time we have a Battle of the Brits as Jamie Murray, looking every bit the tournament director in his chinos and shirt, told Amazon Prime: “If we get the chance to do it again, obviously we’ll try to. There’s definitely the appetite there from the players.”
And there will surely be calls to introduce elsewhere the mid-match player interviews with the television commentators that have provided a – humorous at times, breathless always – insight into the minds of those doing battle.
Evans tried to muffle his voice while sharing his thoughts at one changeover in the final – and it seems he managed to keep his tactics from Edmund.