Andy Murray insisted there was reason for optimism after his exit from the US Open in New York.
After his near 12-month absence from tennis following hip surgery, the former world number one and Olympic champion was beaten 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-4 by Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the second round at a sweltering Flushing Meadows.
But Murray, playing in his first Grand Slam event since last year’s Wimbledon, always knew this comeback would take time – and claims elements of his game gave him plenty of encouragement.
“I think some of the tennis I played was some of the best I've played since I had the surgery,” he said.
“To be doing as well as I was at the end of the match, considering the lack of practice and matches that I've had, was positive.
“When my back was against the wall, I came up with some good tennis to make it close and interesting and almost got myself back into it.
“Unfortunately there were also periods in the match, especially in the first set, where I really didn't play well. I made too many mistakes and I feel like I should have won the first set, which could have changed things.
“I did all right. I chased balls down right to the end of the match. I wasn't giving up on points and that’s a good sign.”
Murray – who won the US Open just weeks after winning his first Olympic title at London 2012 –admitted he had few expectations after arriving in New York.
His movement, such a key ingredient of the Scot’s game, will take time to return but his decision to adopt such aggressive tactics underlined that the 31-year-old intends to come out swinging in his comeback.
“It's difficult to always make the right decisions when you're on the court, playing more offensively,” he added.
“It’s something I did a lot more when I was younger but it will take a bit of time to get used to again.
“I need to remember that this is still quite early in the process for me. It wasn't the most comfortable I felt on a tennis court but I got through it and fought right to the end.”
Meanwhile, fellow Brit Cameron Norrie also exited following a 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4 defeat by Dusan Lajovic to end British interest in the singles.