Australian Open semi-finalist David Ferrer admitted Novak Djokovic is in another class, after the Serbian top seed and two-time defending champion stormed into the men's final on Thursday.
Not many gave Ferrer a chance of victory heading into the clash, and during it, Djokovic didn't allow him one either.
The five-time major winner dropped just seven points on serve in a 6-2 6-2 6-1 smothering of Ferrer.
The Spaniard was unable to enforce any pressure on Djokovic, who mixed sterling defence with domineering attack.
It is not the first time Ferrer has been bereft of answers against Djokovic - he has now lost nine of his 10 ATP World Tour matches against the Serb when they have met on hard courts.
That lone hard-court success came at the back end of 2011 at the season-ending championships in London, a year in which Djokovic won three majors and was conceivably tired by the time of the November tournament.
But to his credit, Ferrer owned up to being in a class below Djokovic - who is aiming to win a fourth Australian Open and a sixth major overall - and fellow dominators Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
The Valencia native summed it up well when asked why he could not convert his five semi-final appearances in the majors to a grand slam final.
"I am trying to do my best every match. But I know they (Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal) are better than me. What can I do?" Ferrer said.
Ferrer said he was still pleased with his efforts, despite not getting any closer - rankings aside, where he will go from number five to four - to Djokovic.
"I (made the) semi-final. It was a good three weeks and I'm very happy for that, no? Of course, I am not happy with my game tonight, but this is tennis ... I prefer (to) play worst in a semi-final than in (the) first round," he said.
The Spaniard comes out of the hard court season with a title, having bagged his fourth piece of silverware from the Open lead-up tournament in Auckland earlier in January.
Ferrer will skip Spain's Davis Cup World Group clash with Canada in Vancouver starting February 1, with the 30-year-old preferring to 'go home to rest' after a gruelling start to the season.
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