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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2015, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Elusive Slam

Today brought to mind both Dec 1984 and Sept 1988 memories. In 84 I had become so bored with Martina's dominance of Chris that I either didn't watch the semi match loss or quite possibly it was not televised. I remember seeing the news and was SHOCKED. In 1988 I was in my senior year at Berkeley but I ran home to make sure I was in front of the tv at my apartment in Emeryville for my one last hope, Chris and her steely nerves to stop Steffi from slamming. I was similarly shocked when CBS announced Evert was defaulting for the first time ever in a slam (had she in a tour match before either??). Today was shocking but in a way not so surprising. I was honestly more shocked/surprised about the French 1989 and the fact that Steffi didn't double slam.

How did everyone else here feel, if they remember? Did today spark similar feelings?
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 11th, 2015, 10:54 PM
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Re: Elusive Slam

Actually, the entire tournament I kept thinking about about Martina's 84. I believe this is the closest a woman had come to a CYGS and failed before today. Not including thinking retropectively in the calendar year like Hingis or Seles. I believe no woman who had won the first three, lost in the final of the fourth?

But in the men's we've had Crawford and Hoad who lost in the US Open final.

I thought Serena was vulnerable and I thought it would've made a weird coincidence but I didn't really think she'd lose. But yeah...

I am so glad that Arantxa Sanchez Vicario existed in 1989 and she won that match. Otherwise, we'll never hear the end of it.

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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2015, 01:37 AM
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Re: Elusive Slam

Steffi summed it up after the 1989 French Open final: "It's not easy to win four Grand Slam events on different surfaces ... It's so damn hard."

For those that missed it: http://espn.go.com/tennis/usopen15/s...qa-steffi-graf
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2015, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Elusive Slam

Were you rooting for Martina in 1984? I had always been a big fan of hers but began to lose interest in both her and the game after she destroyed Chris in the USO 83 and shockingly the FO 84. I was also very perplexed with the fact that my fave Hana had not fulfilled any of her promise at the slams post 1981, nor threatened Martina or Chris in the way I had thought she would/should earlier in the decade. Throw in the continuing shock at the very sudden perplexing loss of Tracy Austin (she the leader of the young guns trading the number one ranking back and forth with Hana and Andrea from 1983-1987, right teen age brain ?projecting the obvious future?). Fast fwd to Dec 1984 and even though I think it was the first year ESPN telecast the event or it was the first year we had the option of ESPN in our cable package, but if the semis were shown, I didn't even bother to watch it...which I can't even fathom now. I started the year loving tennis almost as much as I did during the Bjorn/Evonne years since I had the fortune of seeing my beloved Mandlikova beat Martina in oakland in the BEST MATCH I've ever seen in person (I volunteered as a ticket checker for years in Miami, so I have seen A LOT)... And then except for the USO final there wasn't much of interest to me once Hana didn't rise to the occasion the rest of the year. I think I did want Martina to win for the historical value of it and because I felt she deserved it, but blah.
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2015, 11:17 AM
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Re: Elusive Slam

I didn't really start following tennis until 1985, so I missed the whole build-up to Martina's Slam. In 1988 however I was all in it and remember the day of the final vividly. I had to go to some sort of kiddie pizza place birthday party with my parents and cousins and I remember them playing the match on one of the television. I also taped the final and remember watching it several times, though Graf/Sabatini matches were never my favorites, just something about the match-up didn't produce tennis I enjoyed watching.

I, was, of course, rooting for Chrissie at that Open and she seemed to be having such a better '88, than '87 so I was hopeful that she could pull off a miracle. I won't deny though that I was dubious of her prospects versus Graf at that point and didn't expect her to win that semi, still I was disappointed when the match never took place.

The minute Martina lost to Garrison in the quarters though I was pretty sure that Steffi had it in the bag. Though, I thought that when Azarenka and Kvitova lost in the Qs this year, Serena had it in the bag, so go figure. That said, I don't consider Serena the mental equal of Graf. I don't think Serena's mental game is weak mind you, but she can get in her own way emotionally, but it takes a player like Henin (or Vinci as it turns out) to exploit it. Someone who can be aggressive and stay with her but who has more than one gear.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2015, 03:33 PM
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Re: Elusive Slam

One of my aunts saw Little Mo play at Forest Hills in 1953 (not the final, though), so the general concept of how rare and special THE Grand Slam --none of this "any four in a row" that the ITF tried to pull over-- was well explained, but I was too young to have a real appreciation for the game. My overall reaction to watching Super Saturday 1984 (a.k.a. the Longest Day) was that it was like watching people play tic-tac-toe. It's only once you get to play a little bit more/better yourself that you realize: "That is not as easy as it looks on TV." So I didn't have a strong rooting interest.

And I know we didn't have ESPN, if that was the channel that carried the AO. (It's very hard to explain to the young'uns that hundreds of TV channels and streaming video over high-speed internet have not always been standard features of our modern lives or how much a VCR cost at the time adjusted for overall inflation and tech-price deflation.)

I remember being surprised when I read that Navratilova lost (I don't remember it being mentioned at all during the sports recap on the local TV news), but since she was already established as being a little uptight, not that surprised. I think it was more of a surprise that she lost to Sukova (who?) and not in the final vs. Evert. But in retrospect, it might have taken a "Who?" type of player to derail her anyway, because Evert would have been just as uptight and had the added millstone of the Losing Streak to contend with. Like Vinci, Sukova had no pressure or expectations of her own and no long "inexplicable" losing streak to try to rationalize.

Like in 1988 with the "Stop Steffi" movement: Navratilova, Evert, and Shriver and a few others were so tied up in their own knots about preventing Steffi from winning that there was no way they were ever gonna stop her -- plus, trying to rattle her with that whole "play down rule" change totally backfired. Their best chance also would have been for Steffi to trip over somebody like Patty Fendick, but Steffi was/is a real-life example of "Dangerously Genre Savvy" so that wasn't going to happen.
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2015, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Elusive Slam

Ms. What is the 'play down rule'? I don't recall this?

I love that Ted Tingling quote about peak Martina -
"She goes from arrogance to panic with nothing in between"

It certainly rang true yesterday afternoon. So strange that at Serena's age she must have felt it revealed weakness or flaw in character to admit she was utterly crushed under the pressure. She imploded against a crafty player who basically got every single ball back knowing her opponent was nearly frozen with anxiety, sometimes literally. I imagine the 84 match at the same stage was quite different given that sukova is nearly a foot taller than Vinci, and had a game built around a huge serve volley game on grass, but does anyone remember how Martina played that day? Was Chris already in the final waiting for her (a sure thing in Martina's mind, no doubt given her last lost to her was exactly two years ago to the very day)?

Jake how come you didn't enjoy Graf/Gaby matches? I loved them, especially when Gaby was confident and up for the challenge. I was always thrilled that two younger amazing players BOTH had gorgeous single handed backhands, they both moved like gazelles (during points, as soon as the point was over Gaby swaggered like John Wayne in a bad western!) and they couldn't have been more different save for the fact that both were quiet and soft spoken. As soon as Gaby got her first wins against Steffi I thought the future had arrived and they would take up where Chris and Martina left off, where Tracy and Hana just seemed to have evaporated. Who knew Seles would appear out of nowhere and unfortunately Gaby would continue to be something of a mental midget at times?
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 13th, 2015, 01:42 AM
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Re: Elusive Slam

Quote:
Ms. What is the 'play down rule'? I don't recall this?
When the rankings were calculated under the divisor, there was a rule that the top players wouldn't be penalized for playing in and winning a tournament that awarded championship points lower than the player's point average. I also think it was applicable only in certain instances, like for a tournament that was "assigned," for a "hometown" tournament, or when the top players' appearances fulfilled the WTA's field commitment to the tournament and thereby saved the WTA from paying a fine. All of which seems fair and reasonable, and there was no issue when Martina was No. 1.

But one day, Martina wasn't No. 1 and Steffi was. And Steffi was winning so many "rich" tournaments and her average was so high that the rule could be applied at just about every non-Slam she played, since her presence fulfilled any tournament's field commitment. Then, it suddenly became a problem. So, right in the middle of the 1988 USO -- you know, the last leg of the Grand Slam -- the WTA held a vote to abolish the play down rule. The Graf camp had already lodged its dissent, and Steffi did not attend the meeting because it was obvious what was going to happen: an amazing 111-0 vote to abolish the rule.

Papa Graf, predictably, flew off the handle. The WTA stood firm and asserted that one player was not bigger than the sport. Steffi calmly said that it wasn't the right time to discuss it, which should have been their first clue that they miscalculated in their attempt to get under her skin and disrupt her CYGS bid. Steffi thrashed Katerina Maleeva in the quarters, and even gave her racket a few angry, impatient swishes.

When she spoke about the upcoming semifinal against President Evert: "I'm excited to be in the semis and playing Chris. I'm looking forward to a tough match. I'm happy at this stage. For me, it's like the tournament is just starting." OK, for those of you who aren't too familiar with Steffi and Graf-speak, this translates to: "It's time to poop your pants, Chrissie and anybody else who gets in my way." Fortunately for Evert, she pooped her pants before the match and didn't have to play it. Steffi's reaction: "I was ready to play Chris. I wanted to play her badly." Translation: "You lucked out this time, Chrissie. Enjoy praying to the porcelain god while I play one more match."

Not long after Steffi won the Grand Slam, maybe a week and a half, the WTA concluded that they should revisit that unanimous decision and find some way to make things more fair for the top players that didn't involve reestablishing the play down rule, because then the skulduggery would have been too obvious. Their solution? Have no more "down" to play! Award the same amount of points for a whole range of purses.

Of course, it's kinda funny now, and proves just how much self-control Steffi had, but at the same time it's sad that the Sorority Sisters would stoop lower than the standard psych warfare ploys and reach genuine abuse-of-power depths. Still wonder why Steffi passed up these WTA Love-30 and Love-40 things?

Quote:
I love that Ted Tingling quote about peak Martina - "She goes from arrogance to panic with nothing in between"
That happens when you're used to winning a lot and easily. You forget how to struggle through.

Quote:
It certainly rang true yesterday afternoon. So strange that at Serena's age she must have felt it revealed weakness or flaw in character to admit she was utterly crushed under the pressure.
Hitting her with a lot of slice -- good old sneered-at slice! -- also had a lot to do with it. Pressure + junk = I can't bleeping play tennis! If her opponent had been, like, a power player feeding her steady straight-up pace, I think she would have pulled it out.

Quote:
She imploded against a crafty player who basically got every single ball back knowing her opponent was nearly frozen with anxiety, sometimes literally.
Look, it is so damn hard, especially if you care. If finding that balance point between desire and detachment were anything close to easy, there would be more than five names on the list. There's nothing to be ashamed of, especially with everything else Serena has accomplished.

Quote:
I imagine the 84 match at the same stage was quite different given that sukova is nearly a foot taller than Vinci, and had a game built around a huge serve volley game on grass, but does anyone remember how Martina played that day?
Not that Martina was always the best judge of her own play, but she felt she did not lob enough. The match reports also state that Sukova served strongly, returned well, and passed well, especially off the forehand. Helena led 3-0 in the third set, Martina got it back to 4-4 and saved 5 match points, so she wasn't just frozen -- unless Sukova was gagging a little.
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 13th, 2015, 12:00 PM
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Re: Elusive Slam

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Originally Posted by Mark43 View Post

Jake how come you didn't enjoy Graf/Gaby matches? I loved them, especially when Gaby was confident and up for the challenge. I was always thrilled that two younger amazing players BOTH had gorgeous single handed backhands, they both moved like gazelles (during points, as soon as the point was over Gaby swaggered like John Wayne in a bad western!) and they couldn't have been more different save for the fact that both were quiet and soft spoken. As soon as Gaby got her first wins against Steffi I thought the future had arrived and they would take up where Chris and Martina left off, where Tracy and Hana just seemed to have evaporated. Who knew Seles would appear out of nowhere and unfortunately Gaby would continue to be something of a mental midget at times?
To be honest, I'm not quite sure why I didn't really enjoy their match-ups, could be any number of things, or a collection of all of them. What comes to mind is that neither was ever really a favorite of mine and I always need a strong rooting interest. Also I find Sabatini's game so excessive and lacking in efficiency and she hit off the back foot (especially against Graf) a lot! And I really felt their match-ups boiled down to backhand to backhand cross-court rallies with Steffi having to hit an interminable amount of high slices and Gabby waiting (hoping) for the right time to hit the down the line. The one match I really recall enjoying of theirs was the '91 Wimbledon final and I think it was because the surface didn't allow for all Sabatini's excess. It's funny because I really liked the Graf/Sanchez match-up a lot, and I was not a big Sanchez fan, I think because Arantxa was just so darn cagey it made it fun to watch.
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 13th, 2015, 02:22 PM
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Re: Elusive Slam

[QUOTE=Ms. Anthropic;63905673]When the rankings were calculated under the divisor, there was a rule that the top players wouldn't be penalized for playing in and winning a tournament that awarded championship points lower than the player's point average. I also think it was applicable only in certain instances, like for a tournament that was "assigned," for a "hometown" tournament, or when the top players' appearances fulfilled the WTA's field commitment to the tournament and thereby saved the WTA from paying a fine. All of which seems fair and reasonable, and there was no issue when Martina was No. 1.

But one day, Martina wasn't No. 1 and Steffi was. And Steffi was winning so many "rich" tournaments and her average was so high that the rule could be applied at just about every non-Slam she played, since her presence fulfilled any tournament's field commitment. Then, it suddenly became a problem. So, right in the middle of the 1988 USO -- you know, the last leg of the Grand Slam -- the WTA held a vote to abolish the play down rule. The Graf camp had already lodged its dissent, and Steffi did not attend the meeting because it was obvious what was going to happen: an amazing 111-0 vote to abolish the rule.

Papa Graf, predictably, flew off the handle. The WTA stood firm and asserted that one player was not bigger than the sport. Steffi calmly said that it wasn't the right time to discuss it, which should have been their first clue that they miscalculated in their attempt to get under her skin and disrupt her CYGS bid. Steffi thrashed Katerina Maleeva in the quarters, and even gave her racket a few angry, impatient swishes.

When she spoke about the upcoming semifinal against President Evert: "I'm excited to be in the semis and playing Chris. I'm looking forward to a tough match. I'm happy at this stage. For me, it's like the tournament is just starting." OK, for those of you who aren't too familiar with Steffi and Graf-speak, this translates to: "It's time to poop your pants, Chrissie and anybody else who gets in my way." Fortunately for Evert, she pooped her pants before the match and didn't have to play it. Steffi's reaction: "I was ready to play Chris. I wanted to play her badly." Translation: "You lucked out this time, Chrissie. Enjoy praying to the porcelain god while I play one more match."

Not long after Steffi won the Grand Slam, maybe a week and a half, the WTA concluded that they should revisit that unanimous decision and find some way to make things more fair for the top players that didn't involve reestablishing the play down rule, because then the skulduggery would have been too obvious. Their solution? Have no more "down" to play! Award the same amount of points for a whole range of purses.

Of course, it's kinda funny now, and proves just how much self-control Steffi had, but at the same time it's sad that the Sorority Sisters would stoop lower than the standard psych warfare ploys and reach genuine abuse-of-power depths. Still wonder why Steffi passed up these WTA Love-30 and Love-40 things?

Not to deviate from topic, but thanks for this piece of history Ms.A
No wonder then, Chrissie was trying to down play Steffi's GS win even after all these years..
Chrissie was saying with a straight face the other day of how Steffi felt no pressure for winning the GS when Steffi has been saying the opposite all along.
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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 13th, 2015, 03:35 PM
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Re: Elusive Slam

Can we please not turn this thread into a "horrible Chrissie and Martina" and "poor Steffi" thread, please? None of the aforementioned players were saints or victims. Let's move on.
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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 14th, 2015, 12:54 AM
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Re: Elusive Slam

Evert is a politician type who says whatever best serves her current agenda. It's demonstrable. Should I expect her to publicly admit that she and her pals went beyond the standard locker room/press conference verbal sparring and tweaking and abused their power as WTA officers to try to affect a player's performance in a tournament? Of course not -- and she probably genuinely does not see anything "wrong" with what they tried to do. But that doesn't mean that it didn't happen and there wasn't anything wrong with it just because it didn't succeed in its objective. Or that we should believe her or "just let it go" when she says "It happened like this..." Have I mentioned I dislike revisionist history? What would you say/think if the roles were reversed?

I find it hilarious in a way that they even thought it was worth a try. Steffi was probably more insulted that they thought she'd get flustered/distracted enough to lose because of their board room manuever than anything else. Like I said, it just showed that Steffi wasn't too susceptible to standard mind games.
So, it would be easy to let what happened in 1988 be water under the bridge if Evert would at least not claim that Graf didn't have any pressure in 1988. Because that contradicts everything that Steffi has always said about what she experienced, from when she was living it right on up two very recent interviews this year. I mean, what's Evert trying to say? That she knows what Steffi Graf felt better than Steffi Graf does? Since Evert really doesn't understand Graf as a person or a player, or at least doesn't pay much attention to her, maybe Evert shouldn't make assertions about what Graf did/didn't feel? It's not that difficult. I know she's a member of the media now and is compelled to say something concerning other attempts at winning the CYGS, but she should probably stick with Martina's in 1984.
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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 14th, 2015, 01:23 AM
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Re: Elusive Slam

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Originally Posted by JakeMan90-93 View Post
Can we please not turn this thread into a "horrible Chrissie and Martina" and "poor Steffi" thread, please? None of the aforementioned players were saints or victims. Let's move on.
True that, agree but that goes with players as well.
As commentators, just let go of the past and move on, talk as much as you want about your experiences and how great you were and boast as much as you want about yourself but not at the expense of undermining someone else.

Ms.A, I found a reference to what you were referring to from SI, the article talks in particular of how WTA officials were openly rooting against the CYGS in 88 but since off topic, will post in the other thread.
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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 14th, 2015, 01:24 AM
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Re: Elusive Slam

Quote:
Evert is a politician type who says whatever best serves her current agenda. It's demonstrable. Should I expect her to publicly admit that she and her pals went beyond the standard locker room/press conference verbal sparring and tweaking and abused their power as WTA officers to try to affect a player's performance in a tournament? Of course not -- and she probably genuinely does not see anything "wrong" with what they tried to do. But that doesn't mean that it didn't happen and there wasn't anything wrong with it just because it didn't succeed in its objective. Or that we should believe her or "just let it go" when she says "It happened like this..." Have I mentioned I dislike revisionist history? What would you say/think if the roles were reversed?
Not to gang up Mrs A-but by your own account the vote on this rule was 110-0. So it was going to happen anyway apparently. I can see Chris, Martina, and Pam as an anti-Steffi American bloc-but 110 to zero suggests broad support.

Timing wise it seems fishy on the surface, but the WTA itself was founded at Wimbledon in 1973. It would make a certain amount of sense to make these decisions at big events when everyone is present.

At any rate THE Grand Slam is a unique achievement. Numbers aside, Maureen Connolly was by every single account an utter killer. It elevates her to somewhere close to her real status IMO.

And thank God Margaret Court has it, because lord knows a lot people try and rip apart her 24 majors-a trend I've seen from fans of Billie Jean King, to Evert and Navratilova, and then Graf, and recently Serena fans. All because there precious one doesn't have that magic 24.

Try as some might to tear down Graf to elevate someone else there is no taking away 1988. I don't care if if you beat nothing but scrubs or rabbits who run, there is no "asterisk" about all 4 majors in a calendar year.

Others GOATS have many qualities, but there is an undeniable awe inspiring quality about wining the Holy Grail of Tennis.


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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old Sep 14th, 2015, 01:44 AM
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Re: Elusive Slam

Great as capturing all 4 slams in one year is, the 5 women who did it or came close all took advantage of what I see as weaker than average years.

In 1953 Maureen Connolly's greatest competition consisted of Doris Hart and Shirley Fry. They were very good indeed, but Mo took advantage of the fact that Louise Brough and Margaret Dupont were aging.

In 1970 Margaret Court didn't have to worry about Maria Bueno-retired with a bad arm. Billie Jean King had dodgy knees through 1970, and this was before Chris Evert and Evonne Goolagong arrived on the scene.

The decline of Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger markedly improved Navratilova's chances at a slam after 1982. Mandlikova was also in a tailspin and even Chris Evert was not herself for much of this period. How close Navratilova came in 1983, when nerves, clay, and Kathy Horvath did her in at Paris, and Sukova in 1984 at the Aussie.

The timing was perfect for Graf in 1988. Chris and Martina were past their prime, Sanchez was not yet a factor, most of all Monica Seles was not ripping up the tour.

This year was no different IMO. Serena's greatest rivals are all in the past. The likes of Capriati, Clijsters, and especially Henin posed threats in their day. These days the only thing Serena has to fear is fear itself. Roberta Vinci was a rabbitt with a big heart-but a rabbitt nonetheless.

None of this negates the greatness of attaining the Holy Grail CYGS. One still has to grab the opportunity when it presents itself.

Hats off to the 3 who've done it.


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