Static Weight and SW > Balance for Spin?

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
Conventional wisdom holds that a head light balance provides a more "whippy" feel compared to HH. That's certainly true to some extent. That line of thought goes on to suggest that a more HL balance is therefore better for achieving higher racquet head speed and therefore greater topspin. All else being equal such as static weight and swingweight, that too sounds reasonable.

However, might the ratio of SW and static weight be even more important than balance alone in making a frame more spin friendly?

While tweaking frames I've noticed that as I drop below a SW of 320 topspin seems to suffer regardless of balance. It's as if the hoop lacks enough mass to create sufficient dwell time to give the stringbed extra time to impart spin to the ball. Thought of another way, the head lacks the mass to stop the hoop/stringbed system from recoiling too quickly thus losing contact with the ball sooner than a frame with a higher SW.

By the same token, when increasing static weight RHS definitely suffers thus limiting spin potential. However, higher static weight (and SW) provide more stability.

It seems that even if one adds extra mass in the grip to achieve a more HL balance at some point that mass inhibit RHS thus reducing spin potential even though the balance is more HL. SW is measured from 10cm up the grip while the actual force needed to swing the frame is more accurately measured from a point in space beyond the grip. That version of SW is effected even by extra mass in the grip while standard reference SW is not. That's because we swing from the core and arm and NOT the wrist.

I've been trying out some higher SW, lower static weight configurations and, regardless of balance, I'm getting more spin with the higher SW and lower static weight setups.

Of course there are shades of gray here. At some point even traditional SW gets so high that RHS suffers relative to power level and the ball seems to launch to fast relative to the RPMs needed to keep the ball down. And obviously all of these values are driven by individual physique and skill.

But as a general principle, when tuning a frame for extra spin, maybe it's best to focus on SW and static weight as they drive the key RHS/spin versus power ratio and simply let balance emerge as a function of those other factors.

In other words, get your SW high enough to develop spin-friendly ball pocketing and stability while also keeping both the SW AND static weight low enough to not impede RHS relative to power level. And let the balance chips fall where they may.
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
I think this makes a lot of sense. I think string pattern is more important, but it makes sense to maximize the SW to static weight ratio within your personal limits. That does seem to be the trend with more modern frames.

I was searching in TW's Find a Racquet screener, which produces a lot of older frames that are no longer sold. I was struck by how many of them had relatively hgih static weights, ie >12 oz, which is rare for current offerings.

It's interesting that SmilingBob, he of the deftly drafted racquet reviews, is on a quest to replace his old Wilson which he had leaded up to produce an astounding Sw to static weight ratio. Head light racquets have traditionally been marketed as being best for serve and volley, but Smiling Bob obviously disagrees.
 

floydcouncil

Professional
This may be totally off base, BUT................

I think technique is the most important factor in creating spin, and NOT tweaking with your equipment to compensate for the lack of said technique.

Maybe I'm totally wrong......... :)
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
This may be totally off base, BUT................

I think technique is the most important factor in creating spin, and NOT tweaking with your equipment to compensate for the lack of said technique.

Maybe I'm totally wrong......... :)
I don't think you're wrong at all, but you have to use something, so why not get a frame that enhances the part of your game you want enhanced.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
I look at balance as a key contributor to any racquet's familiarity. With the "right" balance, a racquet will behave in a predictable manner for me. It handles well and swings to contact without needing to be coaxed or steered to the ball. Sort of an intangible I guess, but even if a racquet isn't especially heavy or light, I find that I can't get my shots grooved if I don't have a comfortable balance.

As for spin, I hear what you're saying. I've been mystified by the performance of different racquets - lighter, heavier, stiff, soft - and with different string patterns, too. Spin potential is tough to predict and I certainly agree that it's not all about racquet speed. Some of the heaviest frames in my collection are among the nastiest spin-factories I've played, including my 12.8 oz. Yonex RD-Ti 80's. Those things almost churn out too much spin for me compared with my moderately spinny Volkl C10's (those weigh 12.5 oz.).

Spinning the ball requires an energy transfer from the racquet, so it makes sense that having a lot of inertia in the racquet is helpful - just as long as we can swing the thing. My heavier frames are more stable and predictable for me than lighter ones, so I suppose that they furnish me with more potential to put that energy into the ball, yet also propel it with enough velocity to send it back across the net. Racquet head speed is fine, but if I have a little more heft in my racquet, I can thump the ball with a slower swing than with a lighter alternative. That compromise is a little different for everyone I guess...
 

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
@Fuzz...

I agree with you on balance. It is certainly an issue.

Today to test this idea some more I setup two otherwise identical frames pushing one towards a higher SW and lower static weight.

To your point on balance and as noted in the excellent book "Technical Tennis", there was clearly some instability in that I had the handle weight too low relative to the head weight. Just getting a ball in play during a casual rally revealed the problem. There was an easily detectable wobble during a swing to contact along the long axis of the frame.

I quickly stripped off the grip and overgrip, added some weight near the butt cap, and voila! The hit felt smoother and more stable.

OTOH, the overall reduced static weight clearly improved RHS and therefore access to spin.

To anyone who doubts this, including my ******* stalker who gave the thread one star, try this experiment.

Measure your frame's SW using one of the handy smart phone apps using the standard 10 cm swing point.

Then measure the SW using a point 10 cm BEHIND the butt (ie use a value of -10 cm). You'll be shocked at the huge increase in SW.

The fact is, contrary to the standard method of measuring SW, additional so-called "static" weight near the frame's butt increases the truly effective SW of a frame thereby reducing RHS (unless of course you routinely use only your freakin' wrist to swing the frame as my TT stalker clearly does!).

The bottom line is this: adding mass to make a frame more HL has two effects, one good and one bad.

1. Additional mass under the grip increases the frame's true, effective SW thereby reducing RHS and limiting spin potential.

2. Additional mass under the grip can better balance the relative speed of the grip and head thus increasing swing path stability.

Based on these recent experiments I would advise the following when modding a frame.

First, determine the general reference/paper SW (mass in the head) of the frame that provides sufficient controllable power on serve and fundamental ground strokes based on your physique and technique. Do so using a stripped down frame in that the grip is your baseline grip + OG and no added mass.

Second, figure out how the lowest amount of mass needed under your grip to provide a smooth, stable swing path based on your physique and technique. Keep this in the 0" to 5.5" range of the butt to minimize the mass.

The result should be a smooth, stable, spin-friendly setup that maximizes RHS and stability. And it's best to do this on court with your frame, lead tape (or vinyl tape) and scissors or x-acto knife. Use apps as reference tools to match frames but use actual court experience, feel, and results to figure out a final configuration (I did this today playing against an opponent who is my age but has played since he was a child...I bageled him this evening having more confidence in my strokes than ever before).
 

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
This may be totally off base, BUT................

I think technique is the most important factor in creating spin, and NOT tweaking with your equipment to compensate for the lack of said technique.

Maybe I'm totally wrong......... :)
Technique is most important but hardware can make physical activity easier or more difficult.

I've done roofing for Habitat for Humanity. Try driving a roofing nail with a small, light hammer intended to drive tiny nails for small pictures. Ain't gonna be pleasant. You need something more substantial. Technique still matters since either hammer can smash your thumb. But one hammer is going to drive the heavy nail so it penetrates the roof's wood sheath. The other is going to be relatively useless. I'm afraid that by your logic all roofers should use smaller, lighter, cheaper hammers since it's only technique, right?

Even we tennis players are not immune to the laws of physiques in spite of manufacturers best efforts to sell super light frames "that swing so fast in the store! Weeee!" :D
 
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TimothyO

Hall of Fame
I think this makes a lot of sense. I think string pattern is more important, but it makes sense to maximize the SW to static weight ratio within your personal limits. That does seem to be the trend with more modern frames.

I was searching in TW's Find a Racquet screener, which produces a lot of older frames that are no longer sold. I was struck by how many of them had relatively hgih static weights, ie >12 oz, which is rare for current offerings.

It's interesting that SmilingBob, he of the deftly drafted racquet reviews, is on a quest to replace his old Wilson which he had leaded up to produce an astounding Sw to static weight ratio. Head light racquets have traditionally been marketed as being best for serve and volley, but Smiling Bob obviously disagrees.
Good point. I've done some analysis of retail frame specs and there are clear patterns between weight, SW, and balance even in stock form.

Note that Nadal, known for his tremendous RPMs, has a relatively low static weight (~335g) and higher SW (350+). His static weight is in the realm of the WTA but his SW is in the realm of the ATP.
 

fgs

Hall of Fame
first and foremost i do not think that there is a really direct proportionality (excuse my english - i'm not a native speaker) between swingweight and rhs in a certain window. what i want to say is that for instance you can swing a sw of 325 as fast as a sw 330 in terms of rhs. i agree that you might get more tired at the end of the practice session or match, but that is a different issue.

i have a heavily topspin-centered game and since my junior days i did best with rather heavy and almost even-balanced sticks. while some 30yrs ago that would have gotten my donnays to 420g static (strung), i now "need" somewhere around 340-350g (strung) in order to get my shots kicking.

i assume there is a trade-off somewhere between rpm's put on the ball and the ability of hitting through the court. moreso you have another issue - a too light stick will produce really high rhs which will tremenduously narrow the "hitting window", so you are gonna be framing a lot of balls. i have experienced this for instance by playing once with the sticks of my son, which are also mantis 300 but not modded. i had indeed more rpm's but the balls tended to land short and kicking up high just into the strike zone of my opponent. i was not able to play a "heavy ball". and i was framing a lot of balls as i drove too fast through the contact zone.
 

MikeHitsHard93

Hall of Fame
I don't think you're wrong at all, but you have to use something, so why not get a frame that enhances the part of your game you want enhanced.
Hmm. Just started reading this thread and stumble upon this. If I love to hit from the baseline and hit tons of spin and power, as well as being able to crush serves or spin them to death, them my best bet would be the PDR, wouldn't it?
 

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
i assume there is a trade-off somewhere between rpm's put on the ball and the ability of hitting through the court. moreso you have another issue - a too light stick will produce really high rhs which will tremenduously narrow the "hitting window", so you are gonna be framing a lot of balls. i have experienced this for instance by playing once with the sticks of my son, which are also mantis 300 but not modded. i had indeed more rpm's but the balls tended to land short and kicking up high just into the strike zone of my opponent. i was not able to play a "heavy ball". and i was framing a lot of balls as i drove too fast through the contact zone.
Excellent point!

I've seen many guys at our club hit that way. Tons of spin but the shot seems light and fluffy as it sits up and floats. No pace or penetration.
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
Hmm. Just started reading this thread and stumble upon this. If I love to hit from the baseline and hit tons of spin and power, as well as being able to crush serves or spin them to death, them my best bet would be the PDR, wouldn't it?
That's the answer I came up with. Time will tell if I was correct. I think a PDR is pretty high on the Sw to static weight ratio.
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
@Fuzz...

I agree with you on balance. It is certainly an issue.

Today to test this idea some more I setup two otherwise identical frames pushing one towards a higher SW and lower static weight.

To your point on balance and as noted in the excellent book "Technical Tennis", there was clearly some instability in that I had the handle weight too low relative to the head weight. Just getting a ball in play during a casual rally revealed the problem. There was an easily detectable wobble during a swing to contact along the long axis of the frame.

I quickly stripped off the grip and overgrip, added some weight near the butt cap, and voila! The hit felt smoother and more stable.

OTOH, the overall reduced static weight clearly improved RHS and therefore access to spin.

To anyone who doubts this, including my ******* stalker who gave the thread one star, try this experiment.

Measure your frame's SW using one of the handy smart phone apps using the standard 10 cm swing point.

Then measure the SW using a point 10 cm BEHIND the butt (ie use a value of -10 cm). You'll be shocked at the huge increase in SW.

The fact is, contrary to the standard method of measuring SW, additional so-called "static" weight near the frame's butt increases the truly effective SW of a frame thereby reducing RHS (unless of course you routinely use only your freakin' wrist to swing the frame as my TT stalker clearly does!).

The bottom line is this: adding mass to make a frame more HL has two effects, one good and one bad.

1. Additional mass under the grip increases the frame's true, effective SW thereby reducing RHS and limiting spin potential.

2. Additional mass under the grip can better balance the relative speed of the grip and head thus increasing swing path stability.

Based on these recent experiments I would advise the following when modding a frame.

First, determine the general reference/paper SW (mass in the head) of the frame that provides sufficient controllable power on serve and fundamental ground strokes based on your physique and technique. Do so using a stripped down frame in that the grip is your baseline grip + OG and no added mass.

Second, figure out how the lowest amount of mass needed under your grip to provide a smooth, stable swing path based on your physique and technique. Keep this in the 0" to 5.5" range of the butt to minimize the mass.

The result should be a smooth, stable, spin-friendly setup that maximizes RHS and stability. And it's best to do this on court with your frame, lead tape (or vinyl tape) and scissors or x-acto knife. Use apps as reference tools to match frames but use actual court experience, feel, and results to figure out a final configuration (I did this today playing against an opponent who is my age but has played since he was a child...I bageled him this evening having more confidence in my strokes than ever before).
I've wondered about this myself. Isn't SW as used in tennis really moment of inertia? And any measurement of MOI requires location of a point of rotation. For different strokes, that will vary quite a bit I would have thought.

And how exactly do SW and headlight measurements differ? Can two frames with the same static weight and same HL balance have different SW?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Could be, it's what you prefer.
Light rackets with solid SW's, like a Blade, can hit a big ball.
Heavy rackets with low SW can also hit a big ball.
Even volleying, it makes little difference. Nadal volleys among the best in ATP, while conventional thought is 12 oz rackets at 7 pts headlight.
 

edman9898

Professional
One thing that has not been put into the equation is FLEX. I find I can get more spin with flexy racquets vs. Stiff racquets. As someone else said, the string pattern as well. I see what you are saying though...
 

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
Could be, it's what you prefer.
Light rackets with solid SW's, like a Blade, can hit a big ball.
Heavy rackets with low SW can also hit a big ball.
Even volleying, it makes little difference. Nadal volleys among the best in ATP, while conventional thought is 12 oz rackets at 7 pts headlight.
Yeah, I've read in various sources that a good for the average male player (mere mortal, not super star) is 337g to 340g, 7 pts HL, and SW circa 320.

And oddly enough that's where I'm comfortable. At lower weights and lower SW I feel like the frame gets pushed around more and I get less accuracy. As I get above 340g/SW 320 the frame feels sluggish to this middle aged body and I'm late on my one-hand backhand return of serve.

There is indeed a Goldilocks zone for frames based on physique and competitive level. I suspect that for most rec players it's probably a little higher than what's sold in retail shops but not nearly as high as most pros. However, there are pros who are successful within those ranges. IIRC Verdasco's SW was around 315 for a long time and Schiavone is down around 315g with a SW of "only" 323...and she managed to win the FO. :)
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
I can hit both, and it depends on who I'm playing against and what racket I'm using.

...
Like Floyd said, TE usually comes from poor form on the backhand. I would see it as more of an issue with one handers, since the two hander is kind of a hybrid FH/BH stroke. You might be better to stick with the two hander. I suppose a lot of BH volleying would have the same effect, probably more so since the ball is coming faster.
 

TimothyO

Hall of Fame
Tried another test tonight pushing the configuration of one of the frames to an even lower static weight and higher SW.

Result: even easier access to spin.

I'm now using an iPhone app to measure SW. It agrees perfectly with the SW results I get from the TW tool.

Here's an interesting experiment: set two frames to the same SW but different static weights. Then use a SW tool to measure SW for both frames from the a point at -10cm (ie at a point in space beyond the butt cap.) I believe that the frame with the higher "static" weight will exhibit a higher real-world SW (assuming of course that you don't swing your freakin' racquet from your wrist!) :)
 

ppressure

New User
Conventional wisdom holds that a head light balance provides a more "whippy" feel compared to HH. That's certainly true to some extent. That line of thought goes on to suggest that a more HL balance is therefore better for achieving higher racquet head speed and therefore greater topspin. All else being equal such as static weight and swingweight, that too sounds reasonable.

However, might the ratio of SW and static weight be even more important than balance alone in making a frame more spin friendly?

While tweaking frames I've noticed that as I drop below a SW of 320 topspin seems to suffer regardless of balance. It's as if the hoop lacks enough mass to create sufficient dwell time to give the stringbed extra time to impart spin to the ball. Thought of another way, the head lacks the mass to stop the hoop/stringbed system from recoiling too quickly thus losing contact with the ball sooner than a frame with a higher SW.

By the same token, when increasing static weight RHS definitely suffers thus limiting spin potential. However, higher static weight (and SW) provide more stability.

It seems that even if one adds extra mass in the grip to achieve a more HL balance at some point that mass inhibit RHS thus reducing spin potential even though the balance is more HL. SW is measured from 10cm up the grip while the actual force needed to swing the frame is more accurately measured from a point in space beyond the grip. That version of SW is effected even by extra mass in the grip while standard reference SW is not. That's because we swing from the core and arm and NOT the wrist.

I've been trying out some higher SW, lower static weight configurations and, regardless of balance, I'm getting more spin with the higher SW and lower static weight setups.

Of course there are shades of gray here. At some point even traditional SW gets so high that RHS suffers relative to power level and the ball seems to launch to fast relative to the RPMs needed to keep the ball down. And obviously all of these values are driven by individual physique and skill.

But as a general principle, when tuning a frame for extra spin, maybe it's best to focus on SW and static weight as they drive the key RHS/spin versus power ratio and simply let balance emerge as a function of those other factors.

In other words, get your SW high enough to develop spin-friendly ball pocketing and stability while also keeping both the SW AND static weight low enough to not impede RHS relative to power level. And let the balance chips fall where they may.
Reviving an old thread but I was wondering what ideal specs for spin you ended up on back then;-) This is obviously subjective but I was still interested to know.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
One big factor with static tests is that it isn't representative of body changes due to spec changes. That is if you change specs, your body changes over time based on the load that you place on it. So results from a static test may not be representative of what the results would be in using the set of specs for a couple of months.

My frames generally wind up at 13.25 ounces and 370-386 SW in a flexible (62 RA) frame. It makes for an overall comfortable ride.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
I have the theory that technique variations might account for SW preferences amongst different players with the same physique in addition to whatever kind of racquet they grew up with.

- Linear strokes with not much spin - prefer heaviest SW (maybe above 340)
- Big 3 type ATP-FH or WTA-FHs that have good body rotation - high SW (325-340)
- Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios type FH with whippy motion - lower SW (315-325)
- Bunty non-textbook shots - depending on the level, SW preference might vary with higher levels (4.0 might be ceiling) wanting more SW, but in general they don’t like heavy racquets as they don’t have much RHS and want more maneuverable racquets.

The ranges I gave are examples for average height players with average strength. If you are very tall or very short OR if you are a strong weightlifter or scrawny kid, the ranges might go up or down a bit, but the relative differences between different swing types might still exist.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I have the theory that technique variations might account for SW preferences amongst different players with the same physique in addition to whatever kind of racquet they grew up with.

- Linear strokes with not much spin - prefer heaviest SW (maybe above 340)
- Big 3 type ATP-FH or WTA-FHs that have good body rotation - high SW (325-340)
- Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios type FH with whippy motion - lower SW (315-325)
- Bunty non-textbook shots - depending on the level, SW preference might vary with higher levels (4.0 might be ceiling) wanting more SW, but in general they don’t like heavy racquets as they don’t have much RHS and want more maneuverable racquets.

The ranges I gave are examples for average height players with average strength. If you are very tall or very short OR if you are a strong weightlifter or scrawny kid, the ranges might go up or down a bit, but the relative differences between different swing types might still exist.
What category does this guy fall into? A Garcia is a Jack Kramer Autograph clone. Thread on the JK Autograph: https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/the-beast-jack-kramer-autograph-specs.565574/

 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
The kid looks like WTA FH with good body rotation - grew up to be a good player. My ranges are for those who grew up with graphite racquets where the full range of SW and weight choices were available - that‘s when ATP style swings and Jack Sock style swings evolved. In the days of wood, everyone including me started with heavy racquets as they were the only ones available. Most of us stuck with a preference for heavy (SW>340) throughout the bulk of our adult lives only going to lighter SWs as we became seniors. I went from wood to Max200G to >330 SW modern players racquets.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
The kid looks like WTA FH with good body rotation - grew up to be a good player. My ranges are for those who grew up with graphite racquets where the full range of SW and weight choices were available - that‘s when ATP style swings and Jack Sock style swings evolved. In the days of wood, everyone including me started with heavy racquets as they were the only ones available. Most of us stuck with a preference for heavy (SW>340) throughout the bulk of our adult lives only going to lighter SWs as we became seniors. I went from wood to Max200G to >330 SW modern players racquets.
I went heavier as I got older. I'm not the strongest guy around so I let the racquet do more of the work. It just happens to be a lot more comfortable too. A powerful racquet lets you focus more on spin while letting the racquet take care of pace.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
A powerful racquet lets you focus more on spin while letting the racquet take care of pace.
My SW preference has stayed between 330-340 and I’m 52 now. Who knows what will happen when I hit the magical 55 age when I can play in the USTA senior division - but, I doubt I’m going to be one of those guys going lighter anytime soon as they feel very unstable to me.

I presume that you have a linear Or a WTA-FH swing as those are the two types that were most common during the wood era and both like extra mass from the racquet. If you have a whippy swing a la Sock, Tiafoe and Kyrgios which many of the top juniors at my club have also, they get their pace from the very high racquet head speed (RHS) and want slightly lesser mass than guys like us.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
My SW preference has stayed between 330-340 and I’m 52 now. Who knows what will happen when I hit the magical 55 age when I can play in the USTA senior division - but, I doubt I’m going to be one of those guys going lighter anytime soon as they feel very unstable to me.

I presume that you have a linear Or a WTA-FH swing as those are the two types that were most common during the wood era and both like extra mass from the racquet. If you have a whippy swing a la Sock, Tiafoe and Kyrgios which many of the top juniors at my club have also, they get their pace from the very high racquet head speed (RHS) and want slightly lesser mass than guys like us.
I hit a lot of topspin most of the time but I can play a flat game too. I switched to a Semi-Western in my 40s which made it easier. It's not a high-whip topspin but a lot of people I play with have difficulty with it. These racquets can generate a lot of pace with little effort.
 

ppressure

New User
I have the theory that technique variations might account for SW preferences amongst different players with the same physique in addition to whatever kind of racquet they grew up with.

- Linear strokes with not much spin - prefer heaviest SW (maybe above 340)
- Big 3 type ATP-FH or WTA-FHs that have good body rotation - high SW (325-340)
- Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios type FH with whippy motion - lower SW (315-325)
- Bunty non-textbook shots - depending on the level, SW preference might vary with higher levels (4.0 might be ceiling) wanting more SW, but in general they don’t like heavy racquets as they don’t have much RHS and want more maneuverable racquets.

The ranges I gave are examples for average height players with average strength. If you are very tall or very short OR if you are a strong weightlifter or scrawny kid, the ranges might go up or down a bit, but the relative differences between different swing types might still exist.
I think this division is very true. It's crazy how wristy and whippy Sock/Kyrgios' FHs are. You can't really have a high static weight or SW if you hit like this.
Where would you rank Zverev's FH on this spectrum? I think his is a more fluid and Big 3 type modern FH. Youtube has many slow motion clips of the pro's swings where you can see it well:

 

Wheelz

Semi-Pro
That's assuming those guys play with your/a claimed lower swingweight. Not saying it's not true, but I'd have my doubts.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
I think this division is very true. It's crazy how wristy and whippy Sock/Kyrgios' FHs are. You can't really have a high static weight or SW if you hit like this.
Where would you rank Zverev's FH on this spectrum? I think his is a more fluid and Big 3 type modern FH. Youtube has many slow motion clips of the pro's swings where you can see it well:

ATP-style bent-arm FH like Djokovic. Probably the most common on tour right now amongst top players as straight-arm ATP style of Nadal/Federer is less common.
 
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