What conclusions there were to be drawn from Andy Murray's fourth defeat in a row were inevitably diluted by the dappled setting of his light workout with Novak Djokovic – and it has to be said it is a long way from The Boodles to the Rod Laver Arena.
That is where they endured each other's company for nearly five hours in the semi-finals of the Australian Open six months ago, when the Serb prevailed over five sets before suffering for even longer to beat Rafael Nadal in the final. Here in Buckinghamshire, tennis turned back the clock.
Murray even played in a borrowed shirt, as he had arrived without one, doubtful that the rain would lift. The long-sleeved one he wore on court belongs to Dani Vallverdu, his friend and training partner, who, presumably, will take it back after a good laundering.
As a pre-Wimbledon stretch, the match went by without incident, the scoreline 6-4, 6-4 in Djokovic's favour, but revealing only that both are fit and in reasonable touch.
Broken in the first game, Murray was a bit off the pace but, leading 4-3, Djokovic was briefly inconvenienced when he slipped at the back of the court chasing a tough get. He was in a light-hearted mood, though, and had The Boodles set tittering in the early evening revelry at this lovely, slightly disconnected tennis outpost, when he took out a towel and wiped down the slippery white baseline.
It is a tournament of such languid mood, it can seem as if the score hardly matters, a throwback to more relaxed country-house times. If Hercule Poirot had strolled by with Hastings in tow, it would not have looked out of place.
The players sent their pleasing strokes skidding over the lawn and the appreciative audience contained their delight as best they could under the weight of a decent lunch, some more convincingly than others, as Murray hit a through-the-legs shot on the run and Djokovic, a comedian-in-the-making, played to the gallery.
Djokovic eased to 5-4 and served out the first set without fuss, then took Murray to deuce in the first game of the second, before holding easily for 1-1. He broke Murray again, with the rackets swinging freely on both sides of the net, and it was done soon enough, Murray netting a forehand from deep.
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image: © Yann Caradec