Medvedev Secures Fourth Title of 2023 by Taking Miami Open Crown - UBITENNIS
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Medvedev Secures Fourth Title of 2023 by Taking Miami Open Crown

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink reflects on Medvedev’s latest triumph.



Daniil Medvedev hoists his trophy after winning the Men’s Singles Final match of the Miami Open tennis tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Kelly Gavin/South Florida Stadium)

These are very gratifying times for Daniil Medvedev. The 27-year-old  has been in five consecutive finals, winning four titles in that span. He has secured victory in 29 of 32 matches across 2023, including 24 of his last 25 contests. Medvedev took the Miami Open title for the first time in his career with a 7-5, 6-3 final round triumph over Jannik Sinner, and has now amassed 19 career titles, all in different cities. 


The Russian competitor has often headed into the clay court circuit in Europe with a low morale and deep misgivings, but this year could be a different story after his spectacular string of powerful performances on the hard courts, which have always brought out the best he has to offer. Making his latest surge all the more remarkable is the fact that he started 2023 as disappointingly as he concluded 2022. At the ATP Finals in Turin, Medvedev was beaten in all three of his round-robin assignments, losing each of those matches in final set tie-breaks. In two of those meetings—against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic—Medvedev served for the match. His hard times continued this year with a semifinal setback against Djokovic in Adelaide and a stunning, straight-sets defeat against Sebastian Korda in the third round of the Australian Open.

Medvedev then fell outside the top ten in the world, and too many of us underestimated him at that juncture. No one was suggesting that the 2021 U.S. Open champion was finished as a top flight competitor, but it was unimaginable that he could raise his game so swiftly and mightily over the last couple of months— and yet he has done precisely that. Before I move on to his latest exploits in Miami, let’s review what he has done to restore his confidence and rebuild his game with such persuasion. 

It commenced in Rotterdam, where he upended Sinner 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 in a hard-fought final on February 19. The following week in Doha, he ousted Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4 to take the crown there. Competing for the third week in a row at Dubai, he opened the month of March almost invincibly, ending a four-match losing streak against Djokovic with a 6-4, 6-4 semifinal triumph, and then obliterating countryman Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-2 in the title round. No one even pushed him beyond 6-4 in a set that entire week.

After a brief break, Medvedev moved on to Indian Wells in search of a fourth straight title on the ATP Tour. He complained constantly about the slowness of the hard courts at that California event, but still reached the final before a masterful Carlos Alcaraz took him apart 6-3, 6-2. His 19-match winning streak—the second longest of his career—was over, but his self-esteem remained undiminished.

Medvedev quickly resumed his winning ways on the hard courts in Florida, crushing Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round after a first round bye. He was given a walkover in the third round as Alex Molcan was unable to play. Next Medvedev accounted for the Frenchman Quentin Halys 6-4, 6-2. In the quarterfinals, he overcame the aggressive game plan deployed by the American Chris Eubanks, taking that encounter 6-3, 7-5. And then he was victorious in a three-set semifinal against Karen Khachanov. In the end, Medvedev was marginally better than a countryman who has reached the semifinals of the last two Grand Slam tournaments, prevailing 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev during the Men’s Singles Final match of the Miami Open tennis tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Tomas Diniz Santos/South Florida Stadium)

Across the net in the Miami final stood none other than Sinner, who has been on a decidedly upward path himself as of late. He lost a five-set match in the fourth round of the Australian Open to eventual finalist Tsitsipas, but won his next tournament in Montpellier, France, defeating the towering Maxime Cressy in the final. Then he lost that well-played Rotterdam final to Medvedev before making it to the semifinals at Indian Wells. Alcaraz beat him there, but Sinner performed admirably.

At the Miami Open, Sinner put the Indian Wells defeat emphatically behind him and his form was sparkling en route to the final. He was at the top of his game and did not drop a set on his way to the penultimate round, erasing Grigor Dimitrov and Rublev commandingly along the way. Then he took on Alcaraz in the semifinals in a dandy of a battle under the lights.

Sinner was out-duelling the Spaniard from the baseline in the early stages. Knocking the cover off the ball, taking his two-handed backhand down the line purposefully and more frequently than usual, beating Alcaraz to the punch time and again, and returning serve deep down the middle with astoundingly regular success, the Italian moved in front 4-1 and reached 15-30 on Alcaraz’s serve in the sixth game— only to mismanage an easy overhead. The tenacious Spaniard eventually held on.

In the following game, with Sinner serving at 4-2, 0-15, these two electrifying players produced a gem of a 25-stroke exchange that was surely the best rally we have seen all year long in the men’s game. Alcaraz drew Sinner in with a drop shot and seemed to have set up a point-winning backhand pass down the line. Somehow Sinner tracked that ball down and half-volleyed from almost behind him to stay alive. Eventually, Alcaraz laced a deep forehand down the line that Sinner could only stab at off the backhand, going short crosscourt but keeping the ball low. Alcaraz sliced an approach to the Sinner backhand that looked as good as gold, but Sinner rolled a backhand passing shot sharply crosscourt for a startling winner.

The fans stood and applauded. Sinner justifiably strutted. Alcaraz smiled. But soon Alcaraz broke back, and not long after he was level at 4-4. The Spaniard broke again for 6-5 but double-faulted at set point in the twelfth game. Now Sinner gave himself a second chance by breaking serve to reach a tie-break and building a 4-2 lead. Alcaraz, however, was undismayed, sweeping five points in a row to win the set.

After Sinner moved in front 2-0 in the second set, Alcaraz collected three games in a row. When Sinner served at 3-4, he twice rescued himself from break point down as Alcaraz missed a forehand return on one and a forehand crosscourt winner attempt on the second. The Spaniard could have been serving for the match but instead it was 4-4. Sinner took the next two games confidently and then Alcaraz went for a bathroom break. When he returned, he was suffering from cramps and Sinner pounced. From break point down at 3–4 in the second until he led 2-0 in the third, Sinner not only won five games in a row but also secured 19 of 21 points.

Alcaraz— who had also been troubled by falling on his left-hand which led to a loss of power off that side—fought on with typical gumption and even held from 1-3, 0-30 in the third set. He then had a break point with Sinner serving in the sixth game but the Italian produced a fine second serve to the backhand to save it. Sinner came through deservedly 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2. How large a factor were the physical woes of Alcaraz? That is difficult to assess, but no doubt Sinner would have been hard to beat in the third set under any circumstances. He deserved to even his career series with the Spaniard at 3-3. To be sure, luck played a role in the outcome of this clash, just as it did last September at the U.S. Open when Alcaraz escaped from match point down in the fourth set and a service break down in the middle of the fifth set to win that astounding skirmish.

In any case, when the Sinner-Medvedev Miami Open final became a reality, seasoned observers had high hopes for a pulsating confrontation. It could not be overlooked that Medvedev had won all five of his head-to-head collisions against Sinner. But Sinner had come off his uplifting upset over Alcaraz and some experts believed he was ready to defeat the Russian for the first time ever. Sinner had only appeared in one Masters 1000 tournament final in his career, losing to Hubert Hurkacz two years ago in Miami. Medvedev, meanwhile, had already captured four of these prestigious prizes. Be that as it may, he was only a slight favourite going into the final.

Jannik Sinner of Italy during the Men’s Singles Final match of the Miami Open tennis tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Tomas Diniz Santos/South Florida Stadium)

But Sinner would disclose afterwards that he had not been feeling well the morning of his match with Medvedev. Nevertheless, the Italian overcame some early difficulties to put himself in an advantageous position. He saved a break point and survived a four deuce game to hold on for 1-1. At 2-2, he exploited an abysmal service game from Medvedev, who led 30-0 before releasing two double faults in a row. The rest of that game was, to say the least, messy from Medvedev. Sinner eventually secured a 3-2 lead on his fifth break point with an elegant drop volley winner.

Nonetheless, it was apparent that Sinner was suffering with his energy supply. Medvedev sensed that. He broke right back for 3-3 as Sinner erred off the forehand. At the next changeover, the trainer gave Sinner some pills. The two players fought on to 5-5 but clearly Medvedev now had the upper hand. He held on easily and then broke Sinner again on a cluster of weary mistakes from the Italian. Medvedev had taken eight of the last ten points to seal the set 7-5, and he never looked back.

Medvdev swept the first two games of the second set confidently. He had now won four games in a row and 16 of the last 20 points. Sinner managed to break back in the third game but a determined Medvedev retaliated to make it 3-1 in his favor. As was the case the whole tournament, Medvedev was not wasting any opportunities, converting 17 of 24 break points. Thereafter, Medvedev was dominant in his own service games, taking 12 of the last 15 points in completing a decisive 7-5, 6-3 victory. Serving for the match at 5-3, he did not concede a point. Medvedev has now won all of the Masters 1000 hard court tournaments with the exception of Indian Wells, where he reached the final. By virtue of his resurgence, Medvedev has moved back up to No. 4 in the world.

And so the players now head out onto the clay, and soon they will assemble in Monte Carlo for the first important Masters 1000 tournament on that surface. Djokovic—who has regained the No. 1 ranking after Alcaraz’s loss to Sinner—will be eager to reassert himself after not being allowed to compete in the U.S. Alcaraz should be in good spirits despite his loss to Sinner in Florida. Sinner should be able to build on the platform he has built all year long on hard courts, and do well on the dirt.

As for Medvedev, he has yet to win a tournament on clay in his esteemed career. He will be fascinating to watch in the weeks ahead after such a sterling stretch on the hard courts. There can be no doubt that right now the three best players in the world are Djokovic, Alcaraz and Medvedev. The battle for worldwide supremacy in 2023 will ultimately come down to them—and perhaps Tsitsipas and Sinner in due course. Meanwhile, we eagerly await the return of the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, some time soon, perhaps in Monte Carlo but perhaps not.

This much is certain: the road ahead will be immensely compelling as the leading players pursue the largest prizes as they head toward Roland Garros, Wimbledon and, at the end of summer, the U.S. Open. The next six months figure to be riveting across the board.

Daniil Medvedev celebrates after winning the Men’s Singles Final match of the Miami Open tennis tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Tomas Diniz Santos/South Florida Stadium)


COMMENT: Is A Happy Carlos Alcaraz Too Good To Be True?



Carlos Alcaraz has put fun back into professional tennis.


Even the stoic Novak Djokovic has been taken by the fun times. Instead of frowning when Alcaraz comes up with one of his amazing winners, Novak releases a broad smile that turns his bearded face into a fan-winning appeal.

Who would have thought that Novak would become such a fan favorite in his old age as he attracts even Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal fans, and maybe some Alcaraz lovers. That last one may be difficult to believe, considering the almost cult-like following of Alcaraz.


It’s the boyish smile that Carlos uses to so easily lure tennis fans into his fan base. Opponents even join the fun when Alcaraz puts on another amazing stunt on the court, or sometimes while sliding to hit a winner off what looked like a sure winner by his opponents.

Even British star Daniel Evans couldn’t ignore the exuberance of Alcaraz in their third-round match at the U.S. Open. Alcaraz comes up with another one of his amazing shots to win a point, and Evans breaks into an ear-to-ear smile. Everyone is happy.

Yes, Carlos Alcaraz is almost too good to be true.


Yes, the amazing 20-year-old Spaniard gives tennis the bump it needs in the new generation of players after the Federer, Nadal and Djokovic heydays. Of course, Djokovic is still trying to add to his record-setting number of Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic is still very dangerous. It could be a spectacular final if Novak and Alcaraz could work their way into another Grand Slam final as they did at Wimbledon.

Of course, even after taking much of the fire out of Alexander Zverev in straight sets in the quarterfinals, Alcaraz isn’t home free yet. Not with former champion Daniil Medvedev standing in his path in Friday’s semifinals before a possible showdown with Djokovic.


It’s anyone’s guess which semifinalist will walk off with the women’s crown on Saturday.

The only Grand Slam champion left, Australian Open champ and new world’s No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka, is in the bottom half of the draw, and must take on red-hot Madison Keys in Thursday’s semifinals.

Wimbledon titlist Marketa Vondrousova didn’t provide much of a test for 2017 U.S. Open finalist Keys in a 6-4, 6-1 loss in the quarterfinals. As good as Keys has been lately, Sabalenka will be difficult to handle.

That leaves young Coco Gauff or French runner-up Karolina Muchova as the other possible finalist. Sabalenka appears to be too strong and aggressive, not to mention talented, for the other three semifinalists.

Where’s French champion Iga Swiatek or high-ranked Jessica Pegula? Of course, both were wiped out in the round of 16, Pegula by Keys and Swiatek by unpredictable Jelena Ostapenko.

That leaves the gate wide open for Sabalenka’s fourth straight Grand Slam semifinal.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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Lesson Failed: Never Take A Legend For Granted




Carlos Alcaraz should have learned at least one important lesson from his marathon loss to Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati final.


Never take anything for granted against a legend such as Djokovic.

Alcaraz paid a big price for ignoring that lesson in Sunday afternoon’s scorching heat on a blistering hard court.


Djokovic appeared to be a beaten man when Alcaraz served with a 4-3 lead in the second set. He was virtually wiped out, or so it appeared.

But the match really was just beginning. Alcaraz won the first point of that eighth game of the set, and everything appeared to be in order for the young Spaniard.

Boy, did things change quickly as Alcaraz carelessly committed four consecutive unforced errors. Suddenly, it was a new game with Novak looking alive and well. Four games later, they were in a tiebreaker and Alcaraz held his only match point of the day.

Djokovic was on fire then and on his way to a 5-7, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) victory.


Of course, this one really didn’t mean that much to either Djokovic or Alcaraz. They are after bigger goals.

The big one comes up in New York in almost three weeks, if both players can make it to the final of the U.S. Open. 

Alcaraz can only get better. After all, he’s only 20 years old. He made a remarkable improvement over his performance in losing to Tommy Paul a week earlier in Toronto.

You wouldn’t think Djokovic can get much better than the game he played in the Cincinnati final. Yes, it should be steaming hot in Arthur Ashe Stadium, too.


This time it will be five sets, and there is no telling who will survive the heat best, if Alcaraz gets another shot at Djokovic. For both players to make it through two weeks in New York to the Sunday final would be a major achievement for Djokovic and defending champion Alcaraz.

Either way, it probably is just a matter of time before Djokovic gives up the chase for more Grand Slam titles. It is worth it in the end of other majors for Djokovic only if he can prevail through the final shot.

But anything short of other major titles wouldn’t be worth what Djokovic went through Sunday in Cincinnati for 229 minutes. Of course, Alcaraz went through similar circumstances at the French Open.

But he’s 16 years younger than Djokovic.

All of the great ones eventually have to surrender to time.


Coco Gauff likely will become one of the great ones before she finishes. A Grand Slam title in New York would set her on her way to greatness.

The 19-year-old, much like Alcaraz, is loaded with weapons. First, she is a great athlete.

That was obvious to me as early as May 2019 when I spotted Gauff resting on a bench at courtside after a long workout at LTP Tennis in Charleston. She already had qualified for the $100K ITF tournament there. 

I interviewed Coco for just a few minutes before she was called back to the court. A month later she was in the round of 16 at the French Open.


 Just 15 years old, it was just a matter of time before Gauff would become a superstar.

She isn’t quite there yet, but after winning titles in Washington as well as her first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati, Gauff is getting close. She still has two more chances to win a Grand Slam title as a teenager, and the next step could be New York. She already has the experience of a runner-up finish at last year’s French Open.

Gauff really didn’t have much trouble upending Karolina Muchova, 6-3, 6-4, at Cincinnati’s Western & Southern Open on Sunday.

But again, the draw for the U.S. Open will be filled with players capable of winning a Grand Slam title, even including the likes of Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, ranked just ninth in the world. As a left-hander, she already has the edge over most of the players in the field.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at 

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WIMBLEDON: An immense Alcaraz, but the changing of the guard is yet to come…

Alcaraz’s merits compared with Djokovic’s demerits. Just a bad day among many so-so days for the Serbian, nonetheless No. 2 of the ATP ranking? Or is it the start of an inexorable decline? Farewell to the Grand Slam, but will he win more Majors?



Carlos Alcaraz reacts to winning the 2023 Wimbledon men's singles title (image via Wimbledon twitter)

NOTE: This article was written in Italian and has been Translated by Carla Montaruli


Carlitos Alcaraz triumphed, cheers for Carlitos Alcaraz. The feat he accomplished at only 20 years of age and in his fourth tournament on grass is remarkable, remarkable indeed. He is the third youngest champion ever after 17-year-old Becker and 20-year-old Borg, as well as the third Spaniard after Santana and Nadal to win the trophy. Being able to beat a player in the fifth set after 4 hours and 43 minutes who is the king of marathons, a seven-time champion and had won 45 straight matches over the last 10 years on Centre Court, can only be considered a great exploit.

Credit where credit is due. Alcaraz played beautiful tennis, complete in all aspects, bold forehands and backhands, powerful and hit on the rise, drop-shots, acrobatic and diving volleys, hanging smashes, aces and winning serves. All this with great mental solidity displayed throughout the entire match: after losing the first set badly, enduring the tension of a second set tiebreak which had not started well for him, then dominating the third set and finally closing the encounter as a consummate veteran in the fifth with a last service game played brilliantly after tenaciously defending very well the break he had secured in the third game of the final set.

A 20-year-old young man could not be asked for more. A well-deserved applause and congratulations also for defending that first place in the world rankings that he will hold for the twenty-ninth week, hoping to keep it as long as possible.

Staying at the top for 389 weeks like the extraordinary champion he beat on Sunday would mean dominating the world stage for over seven years. Over seven years! And…as I write this I wonder if we have paid enough attention to such a feat in all that time! 

Yes, because you write 310 weeks, Federer’s weeks as world No.1, then you write 389, that is Djokovic’s weeks spent in the same spot:  there and then they seem like just numbers…but only when you divide them by 52, the weeks in a year, do you realize the immensity of these extended dominances within a sport whose growing competitiveness and many booming young guns are emphasized almost every day.


Crazy in the case of both Federer and Djokovic with the ATP scepter in their hands, because each of them – as the fourth part of the Fab Four – had to confront at least with the other three. All four have been world number one. Still, for 699 weeks, almost 13 years and a half, Roger and Nole were number one, Nadal was king for 209 weeks and Murray for 41. Add them up and that’s another five years—eighteen years of reign for four kings. Written so many times off the top of my head…but upon reflection this is impressive stuff. It never remotely happened before.

So here it is… the idea that Carlitos Alcaraz could one day – but we are talking about seven years! – reach Djokovic’s 389-week reign today may seem unreal, absolutely far-fetched.

But…are there perhaps three more champions on the horizon who can recreate a quartet of phenomena like the Fab Four? I don’t see them at all. Will Alcaraz be alone in the driver’s seat for the next few years? 

In seven years, 10 or 18 – 18 years was the reign of the Fab Four — phenoms could sprout up almost like mushrooms! Speculating on what will happen in such a long and far away period is a mindless divertissement and I don’t know why it dawned on me…. Except perhaps Holger Rune today – though greatly downgraded by the last duel here at Wimbledon – there doesn’t seem to be a rival of Alcaraz’s caliber right now. Our compatriots may see our Sinner two steps below Alcaraz and one step below Rune, but neither do they see other “prospects” ahead of him. Djokovic called Sinner one of the leaders of the new generation. His fifth place in the Race, along with eighth in ATP ranking certify such status.

But then for a year or two, or maybe even three, if Rune and Sinner don’t make giant strides, or if a new rising star doesn’t emerge, Carlitos Alcaraz could easily add a hundred or more weeks to the 29 he has already earned as No. 1.

Or am I venturing into a wild prediction?

Just not to present you with a single scenario I want to say, however, that the most obvious commonplace one could come up with today, after this final that Djokovic shall not cease to regret for at least four reasons – three missed backhands in the tiebreak and a clumsy drive volley which squandered a hard-earned break point for a 2-0 lead in the decider – is that we have witnessed the changing of the guard.

It will make so many headlines, sure. I may have uttered it too, in one of the many videos I did for Ubi Instagram, for Ubitennis, and the IntesaSanPaolo website. But in my opinion, it’s not true yet.

Djokovic is not ready to retire. He is not going to quit, even if the dream of achieving a Grand Slam has vanished, maybe forever. Farewell to Grand Slam, but will he win more Majors? I think so. He is still world No. 2, isn’t he?

I had written throughout the tournament – you may check – that I didn’t think I had seen the best Djokovic. He had not been at his best against Hurkacz or even Rublev. And, as much as many readers disagreed, neither had he dominated Sinner as he had last year in the last three sets when he had been truly unplayable. Demerit to him and credit to Sinner, as often happens simultaneously.

I wrote that Hurkacz had thrown the first set out of the window and when leading 5-4 in the tiebreak of the second with two serves at disposal to put it away he had not been faultless but had shown a lack of personality. I also wrote that Rublev had been unlucky in the fourth set on the occasion of some break points he had failed to convert.

We did not see the best Djokovic, in my opinion, even in the final against Alcaraz. Otherwise, he would have been two sets up.

Oh yes, come on: the three backhand errors he made in the first tiebreak he lost after 15 won were not errors from Djokovic, the champion who has always played the crucial pointsbetter than anyone else, certainly better than Federer and Murray, perhaps equal to Nadal.. In particular, match points aside – what about that, dear Roger? – those tiebreaks that are said to be worth double.

Those three backhands, a drop shot at 3-2 when he was a minibreak ahead, the one at 6-5 and setpoint after he had deftly returned Carlitos’ serve, the one at 6-6 were errors worthy of a Hurkacz, a Norrie or a Shapovalov, not a Djokovic!

I recall – just quoting from memory because I haven’t time to engage in dutiful and thorough research – that Nole’s record in best-of-five matches after winning the first set is monstrous. Imagine after winning the first two sets.

Here, a Nole in ordinary form, even against that very inspired Alcaraz, would have started the third set with a two-set lead. 

I know that with ifs and buts, you don’t go anywhere. But I’m pretty sure – and I think Nole is too – that if the two sets lead never came into being, it was more because of Nole’s demerit than Carlitos’ merit.

But is this a random demerit, due to a bad day and a series of bad days as it appeared to me throughout the tournament, or is it a sign of the slow inexorable decline of the Serbian who is beginning to come to terms with his age? That drive volley with which he dissipated the all-important break point and the chance to rise 2-0 in the fifth set was another topical moment. Yet, it was not Novak to succeed in a decisive breakthrough, but Carlos three minutes later.

The fury with which, at the changeover, Nole smashed his racket on the net post is revealing. Nole had missed the train to victory and, experienced as he is, he understood it.

I would say that this casual contingent demerit or signal of inexorable decline is the discriminating point of our debate.

Bravo, bravo to Alcaraz for taking advantage of it with precocious maturity, but did Djokovic stumble over a mediocre day by chance, because it can happen to everyone, even to younger tennis players, or because even he – an extraordinary phenomenon – is on that rickety path where age starts taking its toll?

If the most plausible answer we believe in is the first one – and that is the one I believe in – we cannot yet speak of a changing of the guard. 

Djokovic can safely return to the throne of tennis, perhaps win the US Open and/or the next ATP Finals in Turin as well as an 11th Australian Open. Push the undoubtedly great Alcaraz back to second place.

If, on the other hand, the right answer is the second, this Wimbledon definitely enshrines the changing of the guard. But, even in this scenario, only the changing of the guard at the top and the handover between Djokovic and Alcaraz. Not a generational changing of the guard though, at least for now and the very near future, because even a subdued and slightly tarnished Djokovic is stronger than Rune, Sinner, and Tsitsipas on almost any surface. At worst he would be the second-best tennis player in the world. The others, Sinner included, would do anything to stand where he stands.

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