Britain’s Kyle Edmund lost in straight sets to big-serving American Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals of the Nature Valley International at Eastbourne.
Third seed Edmund had four set points in the first set but failed to take them and lost 7-6 (10-8) 6-3.
The 24-year-old was bidding to reach his first final since winning the European Open in October.
Fritz, 21, will face Sam Querrey after his fellow American overcame Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3.
Having lost in the first round at Queen’s, Edmund took a wildcard to give himself more match practice on grass before his first-round match at Wimbledon against Jaume Munar of Spain on Monday.
He beat fellow Britons Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans to reach the last four in Eastbourne and said there were plenty of positives to take.
“For sure I wanted to win this week. It didn’t happen, but it’s nice just for me to play matches,” he said. “I probably haven’t played as many matches as some of the players, but it’s good to be building some momentum again.
“I would have loved to have taken the first set or a break in the second just to get myself in the match in terms of the scoreline, but couldn’t take them. That’s the most frustrating thing.”
Edmund struggled against Fritz’s big serve, which at one point surpassed 140mph and often got the world number 42 out of difficult situations.
The British number one had set point in the 12th game only for Fritz to fire down three unreturnable serves to win the game and set up a tie-break.
Further chances came when the Briton led 6-3 in the breaker but he sent a backhand volley long, double-faulted on his own serve, and then when he finally looked to have sealed it on his fourth set point his shot was called out.
Edmund decided not to challenge the decision and that proved costly as replays later showed the ball to be in.
And he compounded his error by sending a wild forehand out to give Fritz the set.
Fritz rammed home his advantage by breaking Edmund’s serve to take a 2-0 lead in the second set and although the Briton gave everything, the American held his nerve to reach his second tour final.