What can we learn from McEnroe 15-21 H2h with Lendl ?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by tennisaddict, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. tennisaddict

    tennisaddict G.O.A.T.

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    Both have pretty similar major counts. The H2H is 15-21 and inspite of that being one of the top 5 rivalries of open era or all time, no one except for die hard fans remember that.

    Does the negative H2H put McEnroe as an inferior player when comparing with Lendl ?
     
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  2. Tenez101

    Tenez101 Hall of Fame

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    People remember that Lendl pretty much owned Mac after RG '84 though, and I think the vast majority of people consider Lendl as a greater player than Mac (though probably not more talented).

    But anyways, the arguments for Lendl being ahead of Mac are, as you say, not really based on h2h, but based on overall dominance, scope/variety of titles won, grand slams, weeks at no. 1, etc.
     
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  3. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    It largely depends how you rate players. I believe Mac's peak play was greater than Lendl's. Mac wasted some of his twenties, which are an athlete's prime years, after 84. Ivan got the most out of his abilities and worked and worked. Lendl won a wider range of the GS titles.
    Mac really should have won RG 84, so flip that around and...
    Ivan has great numbers and consistency.

    Tenez101, you can say Lendl pretty much owned Mac after the summer of 1985, but not from RG 84. I remember John crushing Ivan in the US Open final 1984, the Masters final January 1985 and two HC finals at Stratton Montain and Canada in 85 just before the US Open that year.
     
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  4. YaoPau

    YaoPau Rookie

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    IMO the overall record needs context. McEnroe's career fell off a cliff after 1985, so it's not like Lendl just figured him out, it's that McEnroe just wasn't the same guy anymore.

    McEnroe won both 1980 contests which I think were just before Lendl's prime. Lendl won 9 of 10 from 1986 onwards. So if we're just looking at the 1981-1985 stretch where both men were in their primes, we have a 12-12 tie. So... I learn from that that they were closely matched.
     
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  5. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Hard work outweighs mere talent?
     
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  6. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

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    i remember after they played '87 us open, lendl said macs 2nd serve wasnt the same as it used to be anymore
     
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  7. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    We learn that Mac should have retired earlier.
     
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  8. DashForever

    DashForever New User

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    More or less this.
     
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  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, and I still believe he played those two pre open tournaments as well as he had played the whole 1984 season.Lendl was hopeless.
     
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  10. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

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    mac was even up 5-2 in the 1st set against lendl at the 85 usopen so you could even say he lost it after that.
    i think macs star burned brighter but lendls burned alot longer.
    comparing careers i think its slightly possible to make a case that mcenroes was better if considering:
    - all of his doubles success as well
    - davis cup success
    - his rivals were borg, connors, lendl. i think lendls rivals in the mid-80s were not as successful as borg and connors
     
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  11. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    McEnroe even had a set point at 5-2 up on Lendl's serve in 1985 uso final.
     
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  12. Graf1stClass

    Graf1stClass Semi-Pro

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    Ice freezes fire.
     
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    That is a pretty good description.
     
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  14. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    It's not that simple. Observe the head-to-head below:

    Ivan Lendl 21-15 John McEnroe
    1980 Milan SF: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-3, 1-6, 6-2)
    1980 US Open QF: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5)
    1981 French Open QF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-4, 6-4, 7-5)
    1981 Davis Cup QF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-4, 14-12, 7-5)
    January 1982 Masters SF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-4, 6-2)
    1982 WCT Dallas F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3)
    1982 Toronto SF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-4, 6-4)
    1982 US Open SF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-4, 6-4, 7-6)
    January 1983 Masters F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-4, 6-4, 6-2)
    1983 Philadelphia F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3)
    1983 WCT Dallas F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6)
    1983 Wimbledon SF: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (7-6, 6-4, 6-4)
    1983 San Francisco F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (3-6, 7-6, 6-4)
    January 1984 Masters F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-3, 6-4, 6-4)
    1984 Philadelphia F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6)
    1984 Brussels F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-1, 6-3)
    1984 Forest Hills F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-4, 6-2)
    1984 World Team Cup F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-3, 6-2)
    1984 French Open F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5)
    1984 US Open F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-3, 6-4, 6-1)
    January 1985 Masters F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (7-5, 6-0, 6-4)
    1985 Forest Hills F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-3, 6-3)
    1985 World Team Cup F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-7, 7-6, 6-3)
    1985 Stratton Mountain F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (7-6, 6-2)
    1985 Montreal F: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (7-5, 6-3)
    1985 US Open F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (7-6, 6-3, 6-4)
    1987 US Open QF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-3, 6-3, 6-4)
    1988 French Open R16: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4)
    1989 Australian Open QF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (7-6, 6-2, 7-6)
    1989 WCT Dallas SF: John McEnroe def. Ivan Lendl (6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 7-5)
    1989 Montreal F: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-1, 6-3)
    1989 Masters RR: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-3, 6-3)
    1990 Toronto Indoor SF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-3, 6-2)
    1990 Queen's Club SF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-2, 6-4)
    1991 Long Island SF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-3, 7-5)
    1992 Toronto QF: Ivan Lendl def. John McEnroe (6-2, 6-4)

    Unfinished match
    1987 Stratton Mountain F: John McEnroe led Ivan Lendl (7-6, 1-4)

    Hardcourt: 9-4 to Lendl (another match unfinished)
    Clay: 5-2 to Lendl
    Grass: 1-1
    Carpet: 8-6 to McEnroe
    In Majors: 7-3 to Lendl
     
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  15. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    ^^was really upset and surprised when lendl bt mcenroe at 1985 uso..i'm sure bbc1 had one of their 'Live via satellite'..programmes

    I remember thinking McEnroe was sure to win having followed his recent success over lendl just before the uso via my dads daily telegraph and my best friends ceefax/teletext service..

    but oh no..:( bloody lendl ruined the fun once again. (like at rg84 which had me crying with rage age 11)
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
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  16. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    What we can learn from this is, nobody beats john McEnroe 8 times in a row.
     
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  17. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    mcenroes losing streak seems to end around the time his switched away from his quaint wooden racquet to a graphite,

    I noticed mac was still using his wooden twig when viewing USO 1982 SF on youtube.
     
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  18. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Philadelphia win in 1983 was with wooden racket. But McEnroe's first tournament with the new racket was the may 1983 WCT finals by the very narrow score of 7-6 in the fifth.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
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  19. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I think Lendl secured his domination in 1985 with the Antwerp win, not the US Open win.I remember after watching the match, how fit and extremely overconfident looked to me, more than ever before.That is when I imagined how tough would it be for Mac, even in his prime, to regain the nº 1position.That was also the first match that Lendl´s modern orientation towards the game, with big emphasis in fitness took the advantage over Mac´s more laid back orientation.1985 was a big stategic change for the game.
     
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  20. Frankc

    Frankc Semi-Pro

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    Hmmm... from my viewing of 81 -85, Mac was the superlative user of wood frames. And maybe the superlative (at least of that time period) all around talent of the wood game. The game was changing then to composites and the more powerful technology, including his 200G.
    From my view, his shotmaking and variety of the 81-82 season with woodies - especially a more mature Mac wielding the Dunlop - leaves me in utter awe. Just the 3rd and 4th set of the 81 Open against Borg (yes, his heart was heading out the door), Mac's variety had Newcombe repeating " what racquet work!" Its all there - ridiculous volleys angled off, drop volleys, change of pace, sliced short angles, a big serve, strong second serving (also noted by Newcombe), full powered backhand drives,and those so flat lined flat drives and volleys that are so effective. The quality of the wood game at its finest - in maybe one of the greatest talents ever.

    One sees this through Wimby '80 through 82 (my recent viewing).
    Yes, his 84 season was spectacular, but, imho, his game is different - more power, the same athletic giftedness, and less variety.
    To the thread, that was Mac's prime, the wood era - earlier than Lendl, and the change in the game and equipment mattered much after that...
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
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  21. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Mac seemed wiped out from his 5-set semi against Wilander. He ran out of gas fairly fast. Whereas, in '84, he was simply magic, despite an equally bruising semi against Connors. go figure.
     
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  22. corners

    corners Legend

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    Two things account for this H2H:

    1. McEnroe was a wood racquet player who's touch game never benefited from the switch to larger-headed graphite frames. By comparison, Lendl and Becker, who also grew up playing with wood, developed power games that were potentiated by the midsize graphite frames they switched to in the early 80s. From that point, Lendl, and especially Becker, had a distinct advantage against McEnroe. Mac was still brilliant enough to beat these guys, despite the fact that they could blow him off the court in a way that was impossible before graphite came around, but it was pretty difficult for him to pull off.

    2. McEnroe got old while Lendl was in his prime. Mac was still good enough to meet Lendl often in tournaments, but his winning percentage declined as his game did.

    In sum, McEnroe was inferior in the sense that his peak level using graphite racquets was lower than Lendl's peak level using graphite racquets. This is a really good example of how difficult it is to compare eras. Here, McEnroe truly belonged to the wood-racquet era while Lendl was one of the first graphite-era greats. This makes the comparison somewhat unfair and begs the question: Had graphite not come around, would the H2H have been different. I suspect it would have been.

    BTW, I think Borg would have met a similar fate had he stuck it out long enough to stand across from powerhouses like Becker. Becker once practiced with Borg when the latter made his first comeback and told journalist Pete Bodo that the Iceman still moved well and never missed, but that his shots had no weight behind them. Becker had to dial back his serve to give Bjorn a chance, or so he claimed. I have a very hard time picturing Borg or Mac beating Becker at Wimbledon from 1986 onward, and an even harder time picturing them, even in their prime, taking down Sampras or even someone like Stich.

    Now, on the other hand, if Mac had made the 1985 Wimbledon final and faced a 17-year old Becker with a wood racquet rather than his graphite/fiberglass Puma, and I think Mac wins that match.
     
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  23. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    That's a good way of looking at it. 1981-1985 was when both players were in their primes (although not necessarily their peaks for all 5 of those years), and that was the most important stage of their rivalry. So it was fitting that they were tied at 12-12 in those 5 years.

    Overall including non-sanctioned matches, I make out their h2h to be 37-24 in Lendl's favour.
     
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  24. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    The Connors SF wasn't equally bruising. It ended at night in breezy conditions. The Wilander match was in the daylight in 90+ degrees and about 100% humidity. In his autobiography McEnroe stated that the Wilander match "changed his life". The day of the final he was hoping for rain and it looked like it may happen. Then the sky's cleared and he had to hightail it over to Flushing. He had nothing left after the 1st set and never made another GS or Master's final
     
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  25. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    I would consider 1987 to be the best Lendl. He peaked at the Masters that year, really taking Wilander to the woodshed in the final.
     
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  26. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Yes, this is true. I recall that from his book as well. I was thinking more in terms of match length and competitiveness. In the Wilander semi, heat also played a factor. Aside from that tho', I don't think Mac's head was as tightly screwed on in 1985. He barely got out of the first round...5 sets, with a fifth set tiebreak against the infamous Shlomo Glickstein. Not the same Mac as '84. Then came the '86 sabbatical and Mac was never the same again. Despite some stellar play now and again. He had a few chances in the GS events here and there, but a new generation was ascending.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
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  27. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    1984 McEnroe, graphite racquet
    1984 Lendl, graphite racquet.


    Mac played awfully well with the maxply 200g.....and beat Lendl in several confrontations. Don't think it had anything to do with racquets.
     
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  28. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    For short bursts he could play great but never sustain it. The most amazing example of this was his 1988 4th rd French Open encounter with Lendl. He came out sharp as a tack but after a rain delay and the match having to be continued the next day he was nowhere near as sharp as he was when the match first started. I think he was actually going to beat Lendl had the natch never been interrupted.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
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  29. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Yeah he was flawless in that match. Easily one of the very best performances in his career.

    By that stage his fitness was so good, that his mental strength and confidence had improved a bit because he knew that he wouldn't get tired while his opponent would.

    Even an incredibly fit guy like Wilander couldn't hang with Lendl from baseline by that stage, and had to come to the net and shorten points to beat him.
     
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  30. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Well that's it. Normally in best of 5 sets matches Wilander was really tough on Lendl but Ivan went to another level of power that day. Truly and extraordinary.

    Of course being Ivan (whiny, stand offish, negative)- Wilander (no reason not to like him but otherwise lost in the crowd) makes the match forgettable and you never hear it mentioned which is too bad because it's one of the best big match performances ever.

    BTW I like Ivan these days. He's relaxed and shows that dry biting humor. Surprisingly to me he has refrained from any nasty attacks on former players as well.
     
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  31. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Yes Lendl didn't need his fitness to beat Mats in that Masters final, it was a perfect indoor clinic and demolition.

    Their RG final earlier that year was pretty horrific to watch with all the moonballing (I think some of the French fans were booing during the points). Of their 4 finals against each other at RG and the US Open, the 2 that Mats won were better to watch because he looked to take the initiative. The 2 that Ivan won had so many endless rallies with Ivan outlasting Mats with his superior fitness.


    And I agree that he is far more likeable now than he was in playing days. I like his overall outlook on things, whether it is his coaching of Murray ('praise him, he's the guy who won the tournament, not me'), or his overall career with the way he has been able to move on pretty effortlessly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
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  32. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    Lendl always had a dry, rather wry sense of humor. Could be deemed funny, depending on how you take it. He had a hard time getting the public to like him, that's for sure. Some great tennis tho'.
     
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  33. helterskelter

    helterskelter Professional

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    I'd put his 1986 above his 1987, if only because there was no Australian open in 1986, so his slam record that year wasn't blemished by a loss in Australia.
     
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  34. helterskelter

    helterskelter Professional

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    When did they play in Antwerp?
     
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  35. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    To be honest in 1986 and 1987 the Nabisco Masters was far more prestigious than the Australian Open was.
     
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  36. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    In 1985, a four setter which Lendl won.I think that is the year he finally got the racket in property.

    The EEC Golden and Diamonds racket was the greatest unofficial event of the 1980´s.Similar to the 1990´s Gran Slam Cup, at Munich.
     
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  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Indeed, it was considered the fourth biggest event.WCT had slowed down a bit its pace and the AO, while regaining again old prestige, wasn´t still in the big league.
     
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  38. helterskelter

    helterskelter Professional

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    True, but he won the Masters in both years, so that on its own doesn't really change things.
     
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  39. helterskelter

    helterskelter Professional

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    The Grand Slam Cup results are listed on the ATP website, even though it wasn't a ranking event.

    Right, I remember Antwerp now. I had forgotten where it was held.
     
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