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MELBOURNE, Jan 24 (Reuters) - David Ferrer is used to being called a brick wall, not having his head rammed into one.
The fifth-seeded Spaniard tried everything he could to unsettle world number one Novak Djokovic in their Australian Open semi-final on Thursday but was ruthlessly dismissed 6-2 6-2 6-1.
"I didn't have any chance to win tonight, nothing else to say," Ferrer said. "He was better than me in all the moments."
Renowned as one of the fastest players on the Tour, Ferrer hustled and harried but to no avail; Djokovic was better in every department of the game.
Bigger, faster, stronger and perhaps even fitter, when Ferrer looked at Djokovic across the net he would have seen a more developed version of himself.
"I never lost like this, 6-2 6-2 6-1," he said. "It's been a good three weeks for me, to be in the semi-finals.
"Of course I am not happy with my tennis tonight, but I would prefer to play worse in the semi-finals than in the first round."
Ferrer will move above Rafael Nadal to become world number four on Monday but if ever there was an example of how big a gulf there is between the current top four and the rest, Djokovic provided it.
Unable to wear him down, Ferrer resorted to trying to hit through him, a tactic that was never going to work, with 32 unforced errors spraying off his racket in just one hour, 29 minutes of play.
Having played back-to-back warm-up tournaments in the build-up to the Australian Open, Ferrer perhaps pushed himself too far.
He narrowly survived a quarter-final exit, coming from two sets down to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in a gruelling five-set battle.
With Djokovic in ruthless mood, he simply had no chance and a fourth chance to reach his first grand slam final went begging.
"They (the top players) are better than me. What can I do?" (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)