Roger Federer tonight faced up to relinquishing the last grand slam title in his possession and insisted "it's not the end in any way".
The Swiss was beaten 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 6-4 by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open and is now without one of the game's four major trophies for the first time since 2003.
Federer admitted he was beaten by the better man tonight as Djokovic moved on to a final against either Andy Murray or David Ferrer but scoffed at suggestions he was finished.
He said: "It's not the end in any way. It's a start for many other tournaments after this.
"Sure it is disappointing and it hurts at this moment. I wish I could have won here for a fifth time but it wasn't possible tonight."
When it was put to him that his and Rafael Nadal's failure to reach the final was the first time that has happened at a major since here in 2008, Federer snapped: "They say that very quickly.
"Let's talk again in six months' time."
The world number two played well tonight but he simply ran into a Djokovic who was on top of his game.
The Serb was stronger from the back of the court, singling out the Federer backhand for particular attention, and strong on serve which is an area which has improved beyond recognition in recent months.
Federer added: "I thought he played a great match.
"I didn't think I played badly myself and it was a match played at a very high intensity for a long period of time.
"We had long, tough rallies and played at a very high speed."
A first set dominated by serve went the way of Djokovic on the tie-break before Federer hit back to move 5-2 ahead in the second.
But Djokovic hit back to level it at 5-5 and then broke when Federer dumped a weary-looking backhand into the net.
He served it out and looked to have the match in the bag when he surged into a 3-1 lead.
Federer was not done, though, and he levelled it at 4-4 only to drop his serve as Djokovic edged back ahead and held on.
"Overall it was a great performance," said Djokovic.
"I am very happy with the way I played. I have been serving well under pressure even though I got tight and made some double faults in the third set when I was up a break.
"That's normal under the circumstances in the late stages of the tournament against Roger."
Djokovic agreed it was premature to say there was a changing of the guard in the men's game, adding: "It's much too early to say that.
"Roger is still very much motivated to reclaim the top spot in the rankings and he's playing great.
"Tonight I think I played a better match but he's still up there and in extraordinary form.
"And then you have Nadal who has been a very, very dominant player.
"We are still behind them and you can't say there is a new era coming up.
"But there are more players who are able to win majors which is good."