Aryna Sabalenka secured a straight-sets win in her first match of 2023, but was made to work for it by Liudmila Samsonova at the Adelaide International.

The number two seed won 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-3), saving seven set points after going 5-1 down in the first set, before roaring back to take both tie-breaks.

Sabalenka will face Marketa Vondrousova in the quarter-finals, with the Czech having produced a dominant performance in a 6-0 6-4 win against Kaia Kanepi. 

"When it's 1-5 down, it's like you have nothing to lose, and you just go for your shots without thinking," Sabalenka said.

"That really helped me to stay in the set, to keep fighting and to keep trying."

Fourth seed Veronika Kudermetova eased through after a 6-4 6-0 victory against Bianca Andreescu, while Marta Kostyuk also advanced with a hard-fought 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-3 win over Elena Rybakina.

At the ASB Classic in Auckland, second seed Sloane Stephens is out after falling to Rebeka Masarova.

Having been forced to resume on Wednesday after rain suspended play the previous day, Stephens struggled against her Spanish opponent, eventually losing 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

Fifth seed Wang Xiyu is also out after retiring from her match against Karolina Muchova, but seventh seed Danka Kovinic is through after a simple 6-1 6-4 win against Nao Hibino.

Kovinic will face Lauren Davis next after she overcame Tamara Zidansek 6-2 6-1, while fellow American Sofia Kenin will take on number one seed Coco Gauff in the last 16 after she beat Wang Xinyu in straight sets.

Tallinn Open top seed Anett Kontaveit kept her hopes of winning her home tournament alive with a 6-2 6-1 demolition of Tereza Martincova on Thursday.

The 26-year-old won five out of the final six games as she stormed to the first set, before securing her place in the quarter-finals with a superb second set in which she broke Martincova four times.

Fellow Estonian Kaia Kanepi is also through to the quarter-finals after a 7-5 7-5 victory over Ann Li.

The world number 32 found a crucial break with the opener tied at 5-5 as she took the first set, before breaking Li three times in the second to seal the win.

Eighth seed Shuai Zhang was dumped out by Donna Vekic in a 6-2 6-4 defeat, while fellow seed Jil Teichmann also saw her tournament ended as Ysaline Bonaventure beat her 7-6 (10-8) 6-3.

At the Parma Ladies Open, top seed Maria Sakkari came from a set down for the second consecutive match to overcome Maryna Zanevska and reach the semi-finals.

Zanevska sparked hopes for an upset as she broke the world number seven three times on her way to taking the opening set.

But Sakkari improved in the second to tie the match, before overcoming two breaks of serve from her Belgian opponent to win six of the last seven games and earn a 2-6 6-4 6-4 success.

Sakkari will face Danka Kovinic in the semi-finals, after the 27-year-old's 6-4 6-4 triumph over Italian Jasmine Paolini.

Irina-Camelia Begu's run of 12 consecutive wins on clay came to an end as she was defeated 6-2 7-6 (8-6) by Ana Bogdan in an all-Romanian clash. 

Bogdan's opponent in the final four will be Mayar Sherif, who beat American Lauren Davis 7-6 (7-2) 6-3.

Korea Open finalist Jelena Ostapenko was knocked out in the first round of the Tallinn Open after letting a one-set lead slip against Kaia Kanepi.

Ostapenko looked to be cruising after winning the opener, but Kanepi levelled in the second despite the Estonian watching five set points come and go.

Kanepi then romped to victory with a stunning final set to defeat Ostapenko 4-6 6-4 6-0 and keep her hopes of winning her home tournament alive.

In second-round action, Beatriz Haddad Maia is through to the quarter-finals after a 6-1 7-5 success over Linda Noskova.

After Haddad Maia cruised to a one-set lead, the second was a much tighter affair before the Brazilian's class showed as she broke Noskova and then held serve to earn a straight-sets win.

Second seed Belinda Bencic also secured her place in the final eight with a 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 triumph over Katie Boulter.

At the Parma Ladies Open, top seed Maria Sakkari came from behind to beat Arantxa Rus and seal her quarter-final spot.

Rus saved five out of five break points as she won the opening set 6-3 to give her hope of an upset.

Those hopes were soon dashed though as world number seven Sakkari broke twice to take the second set 6-2, before clinching the match in the third to tee up a clash with Maryna Zanevska.

World number 33 Irina-Camelia Begu made it 12 consecutive wins on clay by overcoming Matilde Paoletti in straight sets and will face fellow Romanian Ana Bogdan in the next round after she beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Fourth seed Sloane Stephens saw her tournament come to an end after she was defeated by Danka Kovinic.

Liudmila Samsonova secured her second career singles title on the WTA Tour by defeating Kaia Kanepi in the final of the Citi Open.

Unseeded Russian Samsonova beat Estonian Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-3 to take the title in Washington on Sunday.

It was Kanepi, the tournament's sixth seed, who struck first in a tight opening set with strong serving from both players, capitalising on the only break point opportunity in the 10th game.

While Samsonova won at least 70 per cent of her service points in each of the three sets, Kanepi's effectiveness dipped after the opener, with a 77 per cent (20-of-26) success rate in the first set, which dropped to 63 per cent (15-of-24) in the second and the third (12-of-19) to provide the Russian with an avenue back into the contest.

Kanepi led 3-2 in the second set, before Samsonova rattled off the next five games, securing a double break in the process and forcing a decider.

In a tight third frame, with Samsonova leading 4-3, she created three break point opportunities and only needed the first to grab a winning buffer, serving out the match for the title.

It is the 23-year-old's first singles title since her maiden victory at the German Open 14 months ago, and she only dropped two sets in the process while defeating fifth seed Elise Mertens, second seed Emma Raducanu, China's Wang Xiyu and Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic.

Shelby Rogers continued her dream run at the Silicon Valley Classic with victory over ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova securing a spot in the final against last year's runner-up Daria Kasatkina who toppled Paula Badosa.

Unseeded 29-year-old American Rogers has knocked off top seed Maria Sakkari along with Amanda Anisimova and 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu on her way to the decider.

Rogers is also yet to drop a set, maintaining that run against the higher-ranked Kudermetova for a 6-3 6-4 victory in one hour and 20 minutes.

The triumph marks Rogers' biggest final in her career and her first on tour in six years.

Rogers, who trailed 2-0 in the second set, broke Kudermetova's serve with her second match point to clinch victory.

Second seed Badosa was bundled out by Kasatkina 6-2 6-4 in 46 minutes in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Badosa did not appear 100 per cent physically throughout the match and Kasatkina capitalised to secure back-to-back finals in San Jose.

The Spaniard had three break points in the decisive game before Kasatkina converted her first match point.

Kaia Kanepi and Liudmila Samsonova both powered their way into the Citi Open final with comfortable victories on Saturday.

Sixth seed Kanepi ruthlessly swept aside Australian Daria Saville 6-3 6-1 in one hour and 13 minutes, moving her closer to her fifth career title. The 37-year-old Estonian blasted 18 winners for the match.

World number 60 Samsonova proved too good for China's Wang Xiyu, winning 6-1 6-1 in one hour and seven minutes. Samsonova's big hitting was a key feature behind her win with four aces and 17 winners.

Kaia Kanepi kept up her strong record against grand slam seeds as she overcame Garbine Muguruza at the French Open.

Muguruza won at Roland Garros in 2016 and also triumphed at last year's WTA Finals.

However, the world number 10 fell to the unseeded Kanepi in her first-round match on Sunday.

Muguruza, seeded 10th, lost 2-6 6-3 6-4 to the Estonian world number 46, who recorded her 10th career win at a major over a player ranked inside the top 10.

Kanepi, who is the oldest player in the women's main draw, also extended her brilliant record against seeds in grand slam tournaments, having now won 19 such matches.

Among active players, only Serena Williams (29), her sister Venus (22) and French Open 10th seed Victoria Azarenka (21) have more such wins.

She will now play Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round.

 

Naomi Osaka moved into the fourth round at the Miami Open without even taking the court on Saturday, getting a walkover victory as Karolina Muchova withdrew.

The former world number one claimed straights sets victories coming into Saturday and had her run eased even further, with Muchova citing abdominal injury after almost five hours on court in her opening two matches.

Muchova has been sidelined due to the injury for the last seven months, missing the US Open in 2021 as well as the Australian Open this year.

"I'm sad that I cannot put up a battle against Naomi today." Muchova tweeted. "After a long break from tennis, two tough matches in [a] row have been a lot for my body and I need longer to recover."

While Lucia Bronzetti also won in a walkover, Osaka will face Alison Riske, who defeated fellow unseeded American Ann Li 6-2 3-6 6-3.

In her third match since losing to Ash Barty in the Australian Open final, Danielle Collins defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-4 in 78 minutes.

The American world number 11 has had to deal with numerous niggling injuries this season, including a viral illness that left her with significant neck pain.

"There was obviously an emotional moment for me, the pain I'm dealing with right now with this injury," she said post-match.

"Just trying to work through that, I think is one of the hardest things we go through mentally when we're on court."

Fellow seeds Belinda Bencic and Ons Jabeur also made their way through to the fourth round, defeating Heather Watson and Kaia Kanepi respectively.

Both won with relative comfort, with Bencic winning 6-4 6-1, and Jabeur only dropping three games in the opening set to triumph 6-3 6-0.

Iga Swiatek came through a huge battle against Kaia Kanepi to advance to the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

Swiatek, the Polish seventh seed, made her second grand slam semi after a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 victory over Kanepi on a warm day on Rod Laver Arena.

The 2020 French Open champion held off Kanepi, who suffered a seventh defeat in as many grand slam quarter-finals.

Swiatek fought hard and needed three hours, one minute to progress to a meeting with American 27th seed Danielle Collins.

The steadier start was made by Swiatek, with Kanepi saving break points in each of her opening three service games.

But the Pole was having some trouble with her serve, a fifth double fault giving Kanepi a break point in the seventh game, the Estonian converting with a fine forehand return winner.

Swiatek held after a gruelling 16-minute ninth game, saving four set points as the Rod Laver Arena crowd started to come to life.

Kanepi had won only one set in her six previous grand slam quarter-finals, but she eventually served out the opener against Swiatek, converting her ninth set point.

After Kanepi broke in the opening game of the second set, Swiatek – who was starting to move the veteran around the court – reeled off four straight games.

However, Kanepi responded, a pair of Swiatek double faults helping her break back in the seventh game on the way to a tie-break.

Swiatek was the more consistent of the two players in the tie-break to send the quarter-final into a deciding set.

After the players traded breaks early in the third set, Swiatek took a 3-2 lead after Kanepi sent a forehand narrowly wide before managing a tough hold in the sixth game.

Swiatek charged into a 5-2 lead and while her attempt at serving it out did not go to plan, she sealed her win with another break after a tremendous defensive point.

 

DATA SLAM: Swiatek hard to beat at majors

It takes a fair bit to beat Swiatek at a grand slam.

The 20-year-old is now 30-2 at majors against opponents ranked outside the top 30 after getting past world number 115 Kanepi.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Swiatek – 31/50
Kanepi – 35/62

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Swiatek – 5/12
Kanepi – 5/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Swiatek – 6/13
Kanepi – 5/13

Kaia Kanepi surprised even herself by holding her nerve to eliminate second seed Aryna Sabalenka in a final-set tie-break and reach Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time.

The world number 115 edged a topsy-turvy battle 5-7 6-2 7-6 (10-7) on Margaret Court Arena to set up a meeting with Iga Swiatek in the final eight.

With Monday's impressive comeback win, Kanepi has now completed a clean sweep of reaching the quarter-finals of all four majors, making her the 15th active player to do so.

But after squandering four match points in the 10th game of the deciding set, Kanepi admits she struggled to keep her nerves in check when the match went the distance.

"I thought I was going to lose it after the match points I had on my serve," said the 36-year-old, who finished with 30 winners and 30 unforced errors.

"It was really difficult to come back. I don't know how I managed to do it.

"I was really tight. My hand was shaking when I started serving. I didn't make any first serves in, and that added to the pressure.
 
"It was quite crazy. I think I would be more happy if I won after two, three match points. It was really close that I lost the match. I feel a bit exhausted right now.

"The Australian Open was the only quarter-final grand slam I was missing. Given my age, I didn't actually believe I was going to do it. I'm really happy."

After sealing a 14th career victory over a top-10 opponent, with her second win in a row against Sabalenka, Kanepi is now relishing Wednesday's battle with Swiatek.

That will pit the youngest and oldest remaining players left in the draw against each other, with 20-year-old Swiatek having earlier defeated Sorana Cirstea in three sets.

"I haven't watched her, I never played her, and I don't know how her ball feels, so we'll see when I play her," Kanepi said of her next opponent. "What I expect is to play good."

Kanepi is one of six Australian Open quarter-final debutants remaining, with top seed Ash Barty and Madison Keys the only two to have previously reached this stage.

Ash Barty may have her focus on winning the Australian Open right now but suggested a career change could be on the cards in the future.  

The world number one made sure she will still be competing during the second week of the tournament in Melbourne by beating Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets.  

But, having played international cricket for Australia before switching to tennis, could the multi-talented Barty be considering trying another sport?  

Elsewhere in Saturday's action, Karolina Pliskova lost her cool – and also a couple of rackets – as she slipped to defeat against the impressive Karolina Muchova in an empty Rod Laver Arena, with fans not able to be present due to a five-day lockdown in the state of Victoria.

Elina Svitolina had no such problems in her third-round match, while Elise Mertens was victorious in just over an hour against Belinda Bencic. Jennifer Brady ended Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan's run in the first grand slam of the year.


AUSSIE RULES, OK? 

After winning 6-2 6-4 without ever needing to be at her peak, Barty was cheekily asked by former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua – now working in the media – whether she may be set to switch paths again, once her tennis career has come to an end.  

Australian rules football was the answer – but Dellacqua maybe got more than she bargained for from her former playing partner during the on-court interview. 

"I thought it was our deal, we're going to AFLW. It's ABCD [the nickname for the pairing from their doubles career]. We come as a package, and I know we will be going to the [Richmond] Tigers that is for sure," Barty said. "You can't go to Carlton. You have to come to the 'Tiges' with me."

Dellacqua replied: "I need to get out there and start practicing some kicking, but you are good. I would love to do that one day." 

For Barty, though, the next challenge facing her is Shelby Rogers, who knocked out 21st seed Anett Kontaveit during the evening session.  


MAKING A RACKET 

A disgruntled Pliskova was not impressed when punished for smashing up a racket during her match with compatriot Muchova. 

Having received a warning when throwing a racket to the floor during the course of the final game in the opening set, the sixth seed then vented her frustration again on another while in the players' tunnel.  

An official witnessed the incident and reported it to chair umpire Alison Hughes, who punished the Czech with a point penalty before she began serving to open the second set.  

"It's off court, I'm allowed to do what I want," Pliskova insisted when querying the decision to the official. She would go on to hold before recording two successive breaks, yet somehow failed to force a decider.  

Muchova rallied from 5-0 down in sensational fashion, winning seven games on the spin to triumph 7-5 7-5 to make it through to the last 16.


CONTRASTING PROGRESS FOR SEEDS

Svitolina has still yet to drop a set in the tournament after overcoming 26th seed Yulia Putintseva by a 6-4 6-0 scoreline.  

The fifth seed was twice down a break in the first set but, after eventually coming out on top to take a 1-0 lead, breezed through the second in a hurry.  

"She has a very different game style from what I played my last two rounds, so it wasn't easy at the beginning to adjust," Svitolina said. "As soon as I was feeling better, I just stepped my game, and it was quite a comfortable win after." 

Next up will be Jessica Pegula, who is through to the fourth round at a slam for the first time in her career after thrashing Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-1.  

There was also success for another American in the main draw, Brady defeating Juvan in straight sets. Her reward is a clash with Donna Vekic, the 28th seed having to save a match point before eventually seeing off Kaia Kanepi 5-7 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 after two hours and 38 minutes on court. 

Sofia Kenin's title defence came to a shock end in the second round of the Australian Open, where world number one Ash Barty advanced amid injury concerns.

Kenin was looking to become the first woman to defend her crown at Melbourne Park since Victoria Azarenka in 2013, instead, she was a high-profile casualty in warm conditions on Thursday.

Barty, who lost to Kenin in last year's semi-finals in Melbourne, stayed alive with a straight-sets win over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova also progressed beyond the second round as fifth seed Elina Svitolina blitzed American sensation Coco Gauff.

 

KENIN OUSTED IN BOILOVER

The American star arrived at the year's first grand slam with high expectations and looking to become the first woman to go back-to-back at a major since Serena Williams in 2016.

But fourth seed Kenin fell to experienced Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-2, having tallied 10 winners and 22 unforced errors in windy conditions in Melbourne - the scene of her breakthrough slam more than 12 months ago.

It was Kenin's first defeat to a player ranked outside the top 50 since going down to then-number 54 Iga Swiatek in the 2020 French Open final.

Asked why she was nervous pre-match, Kenin told reporters: "It's like the outside pressure. I felt really nervous. I haven't felt my game for, I don't know how long, but I haven't really felt my game so well, even in my first round. 

"I played well, but still haven't felt 100 per cent game-wise. It's obviously tough."

 

STRAPPED THIGH? NO WORRIES FOR BARTY​

Barty's left thigh was heavily strapped amid concerns but the 2019 French Open champion still booked her spot in the third round with a 6-1 7-6 (9-7) win over countrywoman Gavrilova.

The first Australian woman to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne since 1984, following last year's run, Barty gave up a 5-2 lead in the second set before saving two set points in the tie-break.

Reflecting on Kenin's surprise exit, Barty talked up the standard of the WTA Tour.

"There are no easy matches," said Barty, who next meets 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova for a spot in the round of 16. "There are no easy matches in any tour event, any slam, anything. I think every time you walk on the court, you have to try and be able to bring your best tennis to be able to compete with everyone. 

"That's just the level that there is now on the women's side. That's something really exciting about women's tennis now, is that every single match, it's a fair match. You go out there, you play hard, you try to do the best that you can."

 

PLISKOVA AVENGES LOSS, SVITOLINA TOO GOOD FOR GAUFF

Beaten by Danielle Collins in the third round of the Yarra Valley Classic just eight days ago, sixth seed Pliskova got the better of the 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist this time around.

Pliskova - also a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago - defeated Collins 7-5 6-2 and next plays 25th seed Karolina Muchova.

"I just played better in some moments, which I didn't last week. Then she was not playing that well as she did last week," Czech star Pliskova said. "I knew if I at least maintain little bit, just play at least similar as I was playing last week, I knew it's going to be difficult for her to repeat what she played last week. I think she really played great."

Owning a 6-1 record in the second round at Melbourne Park - falling only at this stage in 2016 - Svitolina produced a mature performance to conquer 16-year-old star Gauff 6-4 6-3 on centre court as 26th seed Yulia Putintseva awaits. 

Elsewhere, seeds Belinda Bencic, Elise Mertens, Anett Kontaveit, Jennifer Brady and Donna Vekic moved through.

A teary Sofia Kenin admitted she was unable to handle the pressure of defending her Australian Open title after a second-round exit.

The American fourth seed departed at Melbourne Park on Thursday, when she was beaten by Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-2.

Victoria Azarenka was the last woman to defend the Australian Open crown in 2013, while Serena Williams was the most recent to go back-to-back at any major, winning Wimbledon in 2015 and 2016.

Kenin, 22, said she struggled to cope with the pressure of defending a grand slam title for the first time.

"Obviously I haven't experienced that. I obviously felt like I'm not there 100 per cent physically, mentally, my game. Everything just feels real off obviously. It's not good," she told a news conference.

"I know I couldn't really handle the pressure. I'm not obviously used to this, so right now I just got to figure out how to play at that level that I played at.

"Because like today and those matches, it just hasn't been there. It's weird. I've been practising for two weeks. Luckily I've been able to practice. I felt fine in practice. Just couldn't do that in the game."

Kenin had 22 unforced errors against Kanepi, while she failed to convert any of her seven break points.

After a second loss in as many meetings with Kanepi, Kenin gave credit to the 35-year-old Estonian.

"She obviously played well. I obviously felt like I couldn't find my rhythm.  I was obviously way too nervous," she said.

"Yeah, I mean, she played really well. She came up with some good shots. She obviously had a good plan against me. I just couldn't execute my shots."

Sofia Kenin's Australian Open title defence came to an end with a second-round loss to Kaia Kanepi on Thursday.

Kenin, who won her first and only grand slam title in Melbourne last year, fell to Kanepi 6-3 6-2 on a warm and windy day.

The American fourth seed had lost her only previous meeting against Kanepi and was again no match for the 35-year-old Estonian.

Kenin's second-round loss marked her earliest exit at a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2019.

She finished with 10 winners and 22 unforced errors, while Kanepi was far steadier with 22 and 17 respectively.

It continued a tough run for defending champions in Melbourne, where Victoria Azarenka was the last woman to go back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.

The last woman to defend any major crown was Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016.

Kanepi moved into the third round of a major for the first time since the 2019 French Open.

She will next face Croatian 28th seed Donna Vekic.

World number one Ash Barty ended her Australian Open preparations with a title after defeating Garbine Muguruza in the Yarra Valley Classic final.

Barty – gearing up for the year's first grand slam which gets underway in Melbourne on Monday – defeated sixth seed and 2020 Australian Open runner-up Muguruza 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 on Sunday.

Looking to add to her 2019 French Open crown, Australian star Barty claimed her ninth WTA Tour trophy and second on home soil.

"It was some of the better tennis I played throughout the whole week," Barty, who had not played in a competitive tournament since last February, told reporters in her post-match news conference.

"Garbine forced me to play at that level. It was a great final."

Barty added: "Overall it was a pretty solid performance. I'm still my harshest critic at times. That's the challenge of sport every day, is trying to get better and better."

Elsewhere in Melbourne, Elise Mertens clinched the Gippsland Trophy with a 6-4 6-1 win over Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

Mertens – the seventh-seeded Belgian – returned to the winner's circle following two runner-up finishes in 2020.

As for Anett Kontaveit and Ann Li, they shared the Grampians Trophy on Sunday.

The Grampians Trophy did not have a final, the WTA announced, due to time running out before the Australian Open begins. Thursday's play was cancelled as a precautionary measure after a case of coronavirus involving a worker from a hotel that had housed quarantining tennis stars.

Kontaveit outlasted fifth seed Maria Sakkari 2-6 6-3 11-9 in the first semi-final, while Li upset seventh seed Jennifer Brady 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (5-7) 10-6.

Garbine Muguruza continued her impressive form to book a meeting with Ash Barty in the Yarra Valley Classic final.

Muguruza, the Spanish sixth seed at the WTA 500 event, crushed Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-0 on Saturday.

The two-time grand slam champion has lost just 10 games in four matches on her way to the final.

Muguruza lost just eight points on serve against Vondrousova while converting five of 11 break points.

She will meet Barty in the final after the Australian benefited from Serena Williams' withdrawal as the 23-time grand slam winner deals with a shoulder injury.

Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka also withdrew on Saturday from the Gippsland Trophy and Grampians Trophy respectively.

At the Grampians Trophy, Anett Kontaveit was given a passage into the semi-finals, where Maria Sakkari awaits after her 6-4 6-2 win over Angelique Kerber.

Jennifer Brady and Ann Li will meet in the other semi after wins over Barbora Krejcikova and Sorana Cirstea respectively.

Elise Mertens will play the Gippsland Trophy final after Osaka's withdrawal with the Belgian to face Kaia Kanepi, who overcame Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 (8-6) to reach her first WTA decider since 2013.

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