Novak Djokovic: I Just Beat The Best Player Ever On Clay, I Am Full Of Joy! [Video]
by Tom Gainey | April 21st, 2013, 1:25 pm

Congrats to Novak Djokovic and his fans. Earlier today the Serb dethroned Rafael Nadal 62, 76 to win his first Rolex Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo. Djokovic, who was iffy to play his home Monte Carlo event, made the most of the week winning the last three matches in straight sets, culminating with his impressive win this afternoon.

“I’m very thrilled,” Djokovic said moments afterward. “I am full of joy at this moment. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the clay court season. I beat the best player ever in the history of this sport on clay and we all know how good his record is in Monte Carlo eight titles in a row and he let me win once, I’m just so happy.”

Djokovic said he did really well when he needed to and he did just that today in breaking Nadal’s stranglehold on the even played in the city where he lives. Djokovic is the first player to beat Nadal three times in a claycourt final. He also ended Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay in the month of April, a streak that goes back to April 8, 2005 when Rafa lost to Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarters.

After winning his 14th Masters 1000 title (37th overall, 3rd this year), Novak will have two weeks off to rest and recover before Madrid. And he won’t have to go far to rest. He lives in Monte Carlo!

Here’s on-court interview after the win:

The post-match ceremony:

His post-match presser:
Q. If you take out Grand Slams, this must rank pretty highly among the other tournaments you would have won, I would have thought?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely, because of the significance that this tournament presents to me. I live here, as I was saying before, spend a lot of time in this club. I mean, for me, the most beautiful club in the world because I love the view, I love the people.
Wimbledon is right up there (smiling).
So I enjoy it. I cannot be happier than I am in this moment knowing what I’ve been through the whole week, actually two weeks, right after Davis Cup, trying to recover and make a decision to play or not to play.
If somebody told me 10 days ago I’d be winning the trophy, I wouldn’t think it’s so realistic, to be honest. But, you know, I went through pain, I went through a big challenge, mentally, physically, emotionally, and in the end it was getting better as the tournament was going on.
I knew after yesterday’s match that I had a feeling that I had a big chance to win against Rafa if I was on the top of my game. The first six, seven games, eight games, were unbelievable. It’s the best that I can play on clay. Well, it’s the only way you can win against Rafa.

Q. Having started so well, obviously had the momentum from the outset, how difficult is it to sustain that kind of level against someone like that when you know at some stage he’s bound to start to play?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: From winning the first set, after that was a mental game, you know, trying to maintain that extremely high level, not many unforced errors, a lot of winners. Everything was going the right way for me.
Again, I knew in the back of my mind that even though I was wishing for no flaws, that it’s going to happen here and there. It usually does when you play on clay against Rafa, best player ever on this surface. And it happened the beginning of the second. He increased his level. I thought he elevated his game.
And for me, when I was a break down, it was important just mentally to stay out there, believe that I can come back, believe I can win. In the most important moments, I managed to make some great shots from the baseline, managed to step into the court, take my chances. I didn’t allow him to really control, dictate the tempo of the match.
So when I was 6 5 down, I think out of next 10, 15 points, I lost only one. So that’s an unbelievable effort at that stage.

Q. After 25 minutes, 5 Love up against Nadal on clay, you said yesterday about a positive mindset, what was it you told yourself to do before this match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, you know, in the end the will to prepare can make a winner in these kind of matches and challenges. I’ve been in these kind of situations before. I played twice in the finals here against Nadal. I lost both times, but close matches.
I knew that I’m going to need to be on top of my game. I’ve done everything in my power in order to prepare best that I can emotionally, physically, mentally.
My team was there supporting me, behind me. Weather conditions I cannot affect, but I can affect my mental preparation.
As I was saying on the press conference, post match press conference after Fognini yesterday, I want to win. There’s nothing wrong about that. There’s no doubt that this kind of mindset I will be having before the match.
So I think the preparation was fantastic. The way I felt going back again what I said before the way I felt yesterday after the match gave me the right indication that I’m ready, that this is the right time.

Q. Also in the second set when he broke you, did you have the sensation that the match depended on you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, analyzing the game and the matches that I had against him in the past on different surfaces, I know if I can play on that level for long period of time, I have a very good chance of winning. I knew that.
I dropped a little bit my level in the second set in points, and he used it. That’s why he’s been so successful on this surface. It was a high mountain to climb for me, and I knew that. It was the biggest challenge that you can have on clay. But I managed to overcome it. I was ready to accept that challenge.
As I said, I stepped into the court when I needed to.

Q. Knowing that only three players have won 6 Love set versus Nadal on clay in their life, when you beat Nadal who won eight times this tournament, is like to beat Federer in Wimbledon, same sort of level? Have you ever played a game like you played when you were down 6 5, those four winners, to win a love game?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ve played in the past this well against Rafa on clay. Madrid, Rome 2011. It brought back the memories. I was trying to go back to years and remember what I’ve done on the court. So those matches, wins helped even in preparation for today’s challenge.
Regarding the comparison, Federer/Nadal, grass/clay, I don’t know really. I never won against Federer on grass. But this is definitely right up there, one of the biggest wins. I’ve played one of my best tennis on clay courts ever.

Q. You looked very emotional after the match point. Can you share what you were thinking and what this win could mean for the weeks to come?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think anybody who saw my expression in the end saw that it was a very emotional win for the reasons I gave you already, living here, what I’ve been through in the last two weeks. It’s a very joyful moment for me. I wanted that trophy badly all my life, especially in last six, seven years that I’ve been spending my time and living here between the tournaments in Monaco.
This is a great confidence boost before the rest of the clay court season, definitely.
Q. Can we say this is a symbolic victory for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: For the reasons, yes, I gave you already. It’s definitely very special because I live here.

Q. What makes you to take this decision? You said this is the best decision you ever took.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s not just me. It’s the medical team that I have, the whole team that was with me, also the medical team of the tournament, that supported me in the decision making, actually gave me the green light to be a part of the tournament because there was no risk, no big risk, of damaging my ankle furthermore. So that was the reason.

Q. This is one trophy you’ve wanted for a very long time. The other one which you want probably more than any other would be the French Open. I guess the two could be connected.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yeah, this trophy could not come in a better moment for me. It was kind of difficult last two months for me. Been through some ups and downs emotionally, physically.
But I’m right in the place where I want to be this moment confidence wise, game wise. I just need to do what I have done always: stay committed, to rest well, prepare well, and then I have the next two weeks for those things, getting ready for next challenge.
Of course, I want to win Roland Garros. That’s no secret. But I need to keep on having the right positive mindset for the next tournaments that are also very important. Just trying to stay healthy.

Q. A lot of the game is the mental side of the game. Players before they play Nadal say, I have nothing to lose. You don’t have that attitude. You say you want to win. If you approach him with that steely mentality, do you think it may intimidate him?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: We played so many times. It’s true that in the end it’s very mental on the highest possible level when you’re playing for trophies, big tournaments. Physically you’re ready, you’re getting ready, your game is there. Mentally, emotionally if you manage to cope with pressure in those tough moments, tough moments, manage to play your best, you have a better chance of winning.
I’m filled with joy when I play this sport. It’s a huge drive force for me to be able to perform my best always. Of course, that kind of focused winning mentality. I think I have enough success in my career that gives me enough reason to have that kind of particular mindset.

Q. I know every time you win a trophy or you lose a trophy you’re very polite with Rafa. But winning this trophy and breaking the record of Rafa makes this win something a little bit more special.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, he allowed me to win it once, and I’m very thrilled for that. He won it eight times in a row, so he’s been saying how much he loves and enjoys this tournament.
On the other hand I do, too. It was a third lucky time for me. That’s why it’s very special because it’s the first time I won this trophy at my home basically.

Q. When you started the match, it seemed like you had a very good game plan, playing to his backhand. He tried to get your backhand, but you would run around and hit your forehand. Is that a game plan?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There is a certain game plan there, of course, I tried to implement on the court. Very important for me because knowing that Rafa starts very strong from the first point, was to have the right intensity on the court, the right kind of focus. I’ve had it. As I said, first five games was a perfect, perfect play.

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57 Comments for Novak Djokovic: I Just Beat The Best Player Ever On Clay, I Am Full Of Joy! [Video]

BadaBing Says:


jane Says:

Excellent! Thanks Tom. Sweet picture of Nole, Jelena, Pierre and the trophy too. :)

Brando Says:

I am glad that Rafa lost his title to a worthy opponent. One day he had to lose, sadly for his fans and him it was today: but at least he lost to a worthy rival. Rafa will be back from this I am sure. For now, well done Novak.

Giles Says:

His tongue has been hanging out for this trophy for many years now. Finally ….

contador Says:

Great win for Nole!

I love tennis!

Condolences to alison and Kimberly ( he only Rafa fans on this site I can sincerely say that to)

alison Says:

Brando yeah no disgace,had to happen sooner or later,all streaks come to an end eventually,im sure he will build a snowman next week in Barcelona,i wish i could fast forward in time to next year,as i would love to see these same two play each other again to see if Rafa could wrestle the trophy back,i believe he will haha,yeah its yours for a year Nole but make the most of it as its only on loan haha.

alison Says:

Courbon your man got my man fair and square,but as i say make the most of it as its only on loan till next year lol.

alison Says:

Is Pierre the dog?if so i have to say its a rather masculine name,for a rather feminine looking,but rather all be it though a cute dog.

Brando Says:

@Alison: yep agree completely. I hope Rafa is I Novaks quarter for Madrid- get back in the court v him ASAP I say!

contador Says:

Brando – you are so full of crap, just to remind you. lol…

You are one mean poster behind that fake facade of yours. You don’t wish Nole anything good…and you did a great job of revealing yourself last week.

courbon Says:

@ Alison: Thats fine, he can give him trophy back next year.Rafa will also give him RG this year on loan…(he,he,he,….)

alison Says:

Missread meant Contador in my post at 1.43pm lol not Courbon sorry.

alison Says:

^And 1.49pm^.

Brando Says:


Mmmmm…… should I reply to a petty poster or should I abide by that time tested adage of when a dog’s barking, then just let it bark.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I’ve decided: your not worth it, so….

Continue barking!

alison Says:

Courbon lol,but seriously speaking i would love to see them meet each other again in the final a year from now to see if he could reclaim the title,but thats another story.

courbon Says:

@ Alison: I think they will meet many more times and with different results.I have to say I was really suprised-i did not give Novak much chances.This confirms once more my theory that we should not pay attention to Novaks earlier matches in tournaments-when it comes to final and big rival-he elevates his level big time.Next stop-Madrid>

Giles Says:

Brando. Your post at 2.20 pm “I’ve decided you’re.not worth it”. Quite right, I don’t think that poster uses L’Oreal. Lol

alison Says:

Courbon i think with tennis when your favorite is on a good run,you can have a tendency to take it for granted that the run will go on and on,and also forget they are human and can have dips,i dont know what this means ahead of the rest of the CC season but it has made it more interesting for sure,Rafa will be eager to face off against Nole again of that i am sure,Nole will love to complete a career GS and Rafa will be keen to win a GS 9 years in a row,both are setting out to make history,which adds more spice going forward,so we will see.

Nina Says:

I must say I love this rivalry, not only for they always play great tennis against each other, but because it seems Rafa is the one to always bring out Nole’s best. And I like that. Today, Novak played like 2011 for a long time, it was beautiful to see. I hope we will see more engaging battles like this one in the upcoming tournaments and I wish Nole finally gets RG, if someone can he sure is!

Julia Says:

And Nole brings out the best in Rafa also. He can’t play the same tactics that work for most other players, Rafa knows he has to elevate and change his game when he plays Nole. They both know they have to be at the top of their game with no blips to win against one another. The sad part is one has to lose, even though most would say they are both winners. Congrats again to all Nole fans for a great, deserved win!!!

Alison, MC had both chomping to win, Rafa for the 9th win, Nole for hometown win. As you stated, RG has the same energy and motivation for both, so I think we are going to see some great tennis!

courbon Says:

@ Alison: Simply we get spoiled by brilliance of our guys…Who knows what next couple of months will bring but I wonder where all this leaves Murray?
Can he break in ‘clay’ tournaments?
Regarding Roger, he is the best after Nole and rafa on clay, so he will be constant treat….We will see.I’m off bed know, Serbian water made me very sleepy (plus wife is giving me nasty looks….)
Oh yes, sorry about LVC not getting 3 points…

alison Says:

Great posts Nina and Julia you both make great points,interesting times ahead.

courbon Says:

@ Julia; I don’t know much your posts but thank you for sincere congratullations.I asume you are Rafas fan (which girls is not Rafas fan?Even my daughter prefers him, then Novak…bad education, I’m telling you ) so good luck next time-they are very close and we will see some great matches in next 2 months…Good night.

courbon Says:

Where is that drunk, Australian loudmouth?>…..

alison Says:

Courbon wifey not a tennis fan then? hubby not one either,that was a good game from LVC and a good result against a team like Chelsea,Sunderland may even stay up with Paulo in caharge quite a run they are on,sweet dreams anyway nighty night:))..

Giles Says:

No rivalry will ever top the FEDAL rivalry.

Kimberly Says:

I actually loved the fedal rivalry but I respect this one too. The Australian open 2012 and Wimbledon 2008 are my two favorite matches ever. Even though rafa lost ao I thought it wa such a show of character and grace and self belief. Even though you lost to guy six times in a row to go out there and believe for six hours until your body ultimately fails? Inspiring.

jane Says:

Giles, I should think that’s a matter of opinion, certainly. Some would say Borg vs. Mac is the greatest.

Fed vs. Nadal is more lopsided for your favourite player at 10-19, and a bigger age difference.

Nole vs. Rafa is more even at 15-19 and they are closer in age. Plus, they’ve now met 34 times. Three more meetings and they will surpass the the two players who met the most in the Open Era – Johhny Mac and Ivan the Terrible (in a good way ;)).

So, like I say, it’s a matter of debate.

Personally, I tend to think that most of the more recent matches between Fed and Rafa (say, 2010 onwards) have been kind of a letdown in terms of the matchup – they’ve usually been lopsided for one player. The exceptions were AO 2012 and FO 2011, where the matches were more exciting and lived up to the hype.

Plus, some people don’t like that the same tactics are employed frequently (Nadal’s forehand to Fed’s backhand, for example).

Nole and Rafa are still evolving in their match up in my view, pushing each other to try and do new things. And I don’t think either of them is unwilling to keep evolving his game – both guys are ambitious and malleable.

alison Says:

I like the Andole rivalry i believe it elevated to a new level and became more evenly matched when Andy won his 1st GS against Nole JMO.

Giles Says:

jane. Lopsided or not there is always a sense of excitement and anticipation when they play each other. What makes it interesting is that their game styles are so very different.
I guess their history as well. Rafa came on the scene as a mere teenager, Fed was No. 1 a d the rest is history as they say.

jane Says:

alison, me too. Looking forward to seeing what that one holds going forward. One thing though: with the exception with 3 out of 18, all of their matches have been on hard court. Would like to see them meet a little more on other surfaces. They are just one week apart and grew up together, which makes the rivalry kind of interesting.

I’d like to see Rafa and Andy on clay at least once this year, just out of curiosity! Murray has had some tight sets versus Rafa on clay, and won 1 set cleanly (6-2) as well. So I’d love to see them play again to see what would happen.

jane Says:

Giles, true: I know what you mean about contrasting styles in Fedal. But unfortunately I think the hype has been to their detriment (in some ways) in the last couple of years, as the matches haven’t quite lived up to it imho. 2006-2009 it was a more exciting rivalry.

dari Says:

I still looooove 2011 USO final from Rafa Novak. Just mind blowing points there. Was impressed with how deep Novak is always hitting, and there were some great points, but this match is not high on the list of their greats!
So congrats to novak, I have not seen him so happy in a long time!
And I hope Rafa fans do not need too much commiserations,8 in a row is still outrageous and he can get nine in a row at Barcelona, can’t he?

Jelenaaaaaa! ;)

Wog boy Says:


What’s up Frenchie, did you miss me?


… and Pieeerreeee ;)

jamie Says:

I wonder if Nadal retires at the end of 2013 if he loses in Roland Garros? A couple of Brits(guy and gal) are predicting he will ponder about this at the end of 2013. Retirement?

Michael Says:

Why not ? This is the time for Novak to enjoy the cake and drink the cup of joy. Beating Rafa at Clay is no mean effort and I think he is the player who has beat Rafa most times on Clay. Many a time, he came quite close to beating him at the dirt, but luck was not in his favour. Now the wheels have turn full circle and Novak is being paid for his efforts. Congrats to him and his Team and all his fans.

harry Says:

Hope you are all doing well! I’ve been busy and I am just catching up with tennis after quite a while…

Congratulations to Nole fans! But some of the numbers from this match are a bit crazy even in comparison to those from his wins over Rafa in 2011 — don’t know if Nole played that well or Rafa was bit off (or a bit of both).

(a) this is Nole’s quickest win over Rafa on clay – 1 hr 52 mins. Madrid’11 and Rome’11 were much more painstaking. In fact, this appears to be his quickest win over Rafa in several years (not just on clay).
(b) Nole won a whopping 52% on the return. I can’t recall when Nole won a higher % on return of serve against Rafa.
(c) this is the most BPs Nole has created + converted against Rafa on clay — 7/12! In fact, i don’t recall when Nole created + converted so many BPs against Rafa (even on HC). May be he created more BPs in USO 2011… but i don’t seem to remember that he converted this well…

I would like to know what some of you regulars make of these…

skeezer Says:


Welcome back.

To add Rafa had an amazing 72% first serve ratio and Nole still returned most awesome. A testamant to Nole’s game.

jane Says:

harry, I think Nole was looking to keep points short; there’s no way he wanted to be in extended rallies so he went for it. He was very accurate today – lines, depth, pace. Rafa hit more errors than normal, but Nole played smartly, too, using good tactics, to force some of those errors on the backhand side. According to the stats I’ve seen, Nole converted on 5 of 12 bps, not 7 as you note. There’s a much better and detailed analysis here:

skeezer Says:

Where are the Rafafanatics?
All the trash talkin and?
Easy to do when your fav is winning.

One loss, and POOF. Gone. So much for true Rafa fans.

Nole fans are mostly truly humble in wins and losses. Lesson learned.

harry Says:

Thanks for your thoughts, jane and skeezer.

jane: yes, I got the BPs wrong. it seems to be a good site (thanks). mat4 appears to be among the people who left their comments ;)

The implications of this result for FO and the rest of the year (in terms of seeding etc) are too hard to contemplate: Rafa is defending 3590 points over the clay court season (out of the 4500 he would be entering into)… let us take the upper bound: he defends all, and assuming others do, more or less, what they did last year, he would be ranked 5th come Wimby; instead, let us take the lower bound: if he does not defend any of these points, he would be left with 2395 points and he would be ranked between 12 to 14 (well, this is close to impossible, but i am estimating the lower bound).

harry Says:

^– that was a hard lower bound; a more realistic lower bound for Rafa over the clay season would be — winning Barcelona (500) + at least SF in Madrid (+360) + at least SF in Rome (+360) + at least SF in FO (720) + 2395 = 4335. This would leave him ranked 8 after FO (assuming others defend their last year clay performances).

But, of course, even this is just a lower bound, and I am sure Rafa will defend most of his points…

Michael Says:

Skeezer, Correction please. It is not 72% first serves for Rafa. It was about 79%.

alison Says:

Skeezer im still quite happy to stick around,have to say whenever Nole scores a win over Rafa or Roger,i have noticed everybodys pyschic friend Jamie jumps all over this forum like a fly on sh*t,trash talking not only Rafa but your favorite Roger too,but dissapears like a rat up at drainpipe when things get tough for his favorite,now i wouldnt call that a true fan of Nole,just a hero worshipper,or a provacator.

alison Says:

Nice to see Harry posting again,congats on your favorites win ;),your a genuine tennis fan.

mat4 Says:

Hi Harry. Glad you’re here too.

Yes, I left a comment after JJ’s analysis, but when I reread it, I say he pointed at the same fact I did: Rafa had a lot of problems to redirect Novak’s CC FH DTL.

I would have to check, but I don’t remember Novak being so impressive against Rafa on clay. Yes, he played very well in Madrid two years ago, but I don’t remember him playing such an efficient gameplan against Rafa. Then, I was surprised with the heaviness of his CC BH, and his FH clicked eventually, and he made the same number of winners as Rafa from that side.

Novak usually plays very well against Rafa, whose game suits him quite well. But never was he so dominant on a slow surface. It was really a one man show, although Rafa had the right plan in mind, tried to be aggressive with his FH, and jumped on his occasions. But there were so few.

Novak was very impressive toward the end of the match, especially when he broke back with Rafa serving for the set and in the TB. If he maintains this level, I don’t see what Rafa can do. I hope Rafa won’t see it either.

mat4 Says:


Don’t read Jamie’s posts. I skip them all the time. He is a provocateur, sometimes a very good one, always here to nail the loser of the last match.

mat4 Says:


BTW, I manage to rewatch some of the episodes of “Inspector Morse”. I read most of Dexter’s novels in English, and I am very fond of them.

alison Says:

Mat4 thanks dont get me wrong im happy for you and Noles fans,and Jamies entitled to his opinion as much as the next person,but the only thing i find irritating is when posters have to p*ss on other players when putting there point accross.

mat4 Says:


I didn’t understand your last sentence, but like I said, Jamie is indeed a provocateur, and he made me lose my temper at least once too. So I’ll continue to skip his posts, and I advise you to do the same.

I just read that Rafa had problems with his back. Did you find anything about that?

Expat68 Says:

His back is taped up but apparently Nadal’s not answering questions concerning his back. Where did you read that he disclosed that he had problems with his back?

Michael Says:

Why it is only Novak who is a threat to Nadal ? The reason is simple. He goes to the match with a positive mind and that is to win. On the other hand, you have players saying that they have nothing to lose going into the match with a negative frame of mind. That is the difference between victory and defeat.

Wog boy Says:

There is one thing I like and that strikes me with the picture of Jelena, Nole and Pierre in their flat in Monte Carlo on their lounge. If you don’t know who Nole is, they look just like ordinary young happy couple full of life, keep it that way Nole and Jelena (and Pierre), small things make life beautifull.

Brando Says:

This was a good win for Novak, but to consider it a definitive one? Well only those wishing for it to be shall see it as that. At least Novak has respect for Rafa: post match he said himself that Rafa is STILL the guy on clay, and that the 0-5 period had te conditions really suiting him. Heck, even Courbon ( a fair Novak fan without rose tinted glasses) spotted the obvious there: Novak got out of the block quicker than Rafa and took advantage pf suitable conditions. As soon as the court dried up more then it was simply telling: from 0-5 Rafa won 8 games to Novaks 7. Outside the TB were Rafa mentally was weak, to say Rafa wasn’t at least equal during that period is ignoring the reality of matters painte by facts! Put simply: Novak deserved this win, but Rafa was there for the taking this week. He can improve his game for sure, and should he do so: well he’ll remind folks why Novak and others consider him the best on clay. Only the foolish count such a guy out so early in the clay swing- let them I guess!

alison Says:

Mat4 thanks i will do as you suggest,i saw Rafa had some taping on his back in the Tsonga match,but i didnt want to make an issue about it,he lost against the better player,Novak was the better player,i think the thing i was dissapointed with was when Rafa broke Novaks serve,and played a sloppy service game so failed to serve the set out,would have been nice to have had a 3rd set,to see who would be carrying the momentum.

harry Says:

Thanks alison and mat4 :)

Excuse my ignorance (i have not been following tennis much) — have Nole and Rafa changed their rackets in the last few months? I had a feeling that Rafa was wielding a heavier racket than he did earlier (for more power on serve/forehand?).

mat4, (after you mentioned) i should add Dexter to the growing list of books that i would like to read… Have you read Mann’s Magic Mountain? I would love to start it… Another thing that I want to do is Elo-like rating & prediction for tennis. The main issue (apart from finding free time!) seems to be to get the list of matches over the last several years in a suitable format… as a workaround, i could take the ATP rating; but use a scaled rating difference between players to do the prediction with something like a sigmoid function (of course this scale factor has to be learnt)…

harry Says:

Tignor’s take on the match:

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