Current learning-based single image super-resolution (SISR) algorithms underperform on real data due to the deviation in the assumed degrada-tion process from that in the real-world scenario. Conventional degradation processes consider applying blur, noise, and downsampling (typicallybicubic downsampling) on high-resolution (HR) images to synthesize low-resolution (LR) counterparts. However, few works on degradation modelling have taken the physical aspects of the optical imaging system intoconsideration. In this paper, we analyze the imaging system optically andexploit the characteristics of the real-world LR-HR pairs in the spatial frequency domain. We formulate a real-world physics-inspired degradationmodel by considering bothopticsandsensordegradation; The physical degradation of an imaging system is modelled as a low-pass filter, whose cut-off frequency is dictated by the object distance, the focal length of thelens, and the pixel size of the image sensor. In particular, we propose to use a convolutional neural network (CNN) to learn the cutoff frequency of real-world degradation process. The learned network is then applied to synthesize LR images from unpaired HR images. The synthetic HR-LR image pairs are later used to train an SISR network. We evaluatethe effectiveness and generalization capability of the proposed degradation model on real-world images captured by different imaging systems. Experimental results showcase that the SISR network trained by using our synthetic data performs favorably against the network using the traditional degradation model. Moreover, our results are comparable to that obtained by the same network trained by using real-world LR-HR pairs, which are challenging to obtain in real scenes.