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Nakashima, Draper Set For First Meeting In Milan SFs

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Nakashima, Draper Set For First Meeting In Milan SFs

Stricker meets Lehecka in first semi-final

After three days of group play at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, the semi-finals are set for Friday in Milan.

Group winners Brandon Nakashima and Dominic Stricker will both look to take their strong form into the knockout rounds after finishing the round-robin stage with perfect 3-0 records. The American will face Jack Draper in a Top 50 showdown while Stricker meets Jiri Lehecka, with both second-place finishers securing their progress with wins on Thursday.

We look ahead with previews of both marquee matchups at the Allianz Cloud.

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[4] Brandon Nakashima (USA) vs. [3] Jack Draper (GBR)

One of two returning players in Milan, along with Lorenzo Musetti, Nakashima has matched his 2021 result at the 21-and-under event by reaching the semis. Set to age out of the competition next season, the experienced American has attacked this year’s event with great purpose. He enters his meeting with Draper on the heels of seven consecutive sets won; after a five-set victory against Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi in his opening match, he scored straight-sets wins against Lehecka and Francesco Passaro to seal his place atop the Green Group.

The fourth seed improved with each round-robin match and used a dominant serving performance to ease past Passaro on Thursday, 4-3(4), 4-2, 4-1, saving the only break point against him. Nakashima’s dominance on his own delivery is demonstrated by his 8.6 Serve Quality score, a metric which uses a variety of statistical inputs to measure a shot’s effectiveness on a 10-point scale.

Nakashima Serve Quality

“I thought my level was really high today,” Nakashima said after defeating Passaro. “It was nice to see it carrying over from yesterday. To come out and play like that was super special.”

While Nakashima needed to win only one set against the Italian to guarantee progress to the knockout rounds, Draper faced a win-or-go-home matchup against home favourite Musetti on Thursday evening. The Briton played his best match of the week in a 4-1, 4-0, 4-3(3) win to deny the Italian an extended run in front of the Milan crowd.

“I like crowds, if they are with me or not,” Draper said after the victory. “This is what I have wanted to do since when I was younger. I wanted to entertain people. This is why I train every day.”

He’ll hope to enjoy more support as he seeks to hand Nakashima his first loss of the week.

“Brandon’s obviously playing great tennis,” the Briton said, looking ahead to Friday night’s match. “He’s won that group, top of the group, so when I play him tomorrow I know it’s going to be a really tricky match. Hopefully I can play the same way I did today.”


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Draper did not face a break point against Musetti and will aim to use his serve and powerful ground game to pin the American back on the slick hard courts. But Nakashima’s game is also based on aggression, with the American hitting his way to his first ATP Tour title earlier this season in his home city of San Diego. 

Expect a heavy dose of first-strike tennis as both men seek their first title in Milan. If their Pepperstone ATP Rankings are any indication, this one could go down to the wire: Nakashima is the World No. 49, while Draper sits at a career-high No. 41.

[7] Dominic Stricker (SUI) vs. [5] Jiri Lehecka (CZE)

Stricker did not just survive the loaded Red Group — he thrived by earning victories against the two highest-ranked players in the Milan field. But the Swiss’ wins did not come easily against Draper and World No. 23 Musetti.

In an all-lefty battle, he edged Draper in three tie-breaks despite a one-for-seven mark on break points. Stricker followed that up with a historic 4-3(5), 4-3(6), 3-4(7), 3-4(6), 4-3(3) win against Musetti in which he fired a tournament-record 20 aces. The late-night thriller is the only match in the history of the event to feature five tie-breaks.

With one eye on the semi-finals, his status as group winner secured after Day 2, Stricker completed his perfect group campaign with a dominant victory against Chun-Hsin Tseng on Thursday — no tie-breaks needed.

“It was not easy for me to come out here and play my best again because mentally, of course you’re already thinking a bit more of tomorrow, of the semis,” Stricker said post-match. “But I think handled it very well, I played a great match and I’m super happy with my performance. Now I can think all about tomorrow.”

Lehecka secured his semi-final place with a straight-sets win against Arnaldi on Thursday. He beat two Italians to advance, earning an opening win against Passaro on Tuesday, also in three sets.

“When I came here, my goal was to qualify for the semi-finals and then anything can happen,” the Czech said after advancing to the knockout rounds. “I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

The 21-year-old can draw from his experience of reaching the semis in Rotterdam, where he came through qualifying to make a shock run at the ATP 500 event, claiming his first tour-level wins in the process. While he lost to 2019 Milan champ Stefanos Tsitsipas in that semi-final, Lehecka is now two wins away from matching the Greek’s feat at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

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Draper Delivers, Downs Musetti For Milan SF Berth

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Draper Delivers, Downs Musetti For Milan SF Berth

Briton will next face Nakashima

In a blockbuster winner-takes-all clash at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals Thursday, it was Jack Draper who stepped up and delivered, defeating Italian Lorenzo Musetti 4-1, 4-0, 4-3(3) to reach the semi-finals in Milan.

Draper and Musetti headed into the match holding a 1-1 record in the Red Group, knowing only a win would be enough for them to join Dominic Stricker in the last four. In front of a packed Italian crowd, Draper produced a ruthless display to silence the home supporters, punching holes in the Musetti defence with his fierce groundstrokes to advance.

“Yesterday I played a bit better than my first match and then today I really hit some form,” Draper said. “I played well, served great. Lorenzo is a great player and he may have been a bit tired after his match yesterday, but I am glad with the way I played today.”

The 20-year-old, who is making his debut at the 21-and-under event, flew out of the blocks, hitting his flat backhand through the court. The Italian, who took a tumble at the start of the second set, was unable to handle Draper’s aggressive forehand and swinging lefty serve, with the Briton overpowering the Italian to earn his 19th tour-level win of the season.

“I like crowds, if they are with me or not,” Draper said. “This is what I have wanted to do since I was young. I wanted to entertain people. This is why I train every day.”

<a href=''>Jack Draper</a> Insights

With his 56-minute victory, Draper has set a semi-final meeting against 21-year-old American Brandon Nakashima on Friday. Stricker will face Jiri Lehecka in the other semi-final.

Draper has enjoyed a breakthrough year. He won four ATP Challenger Tour titles, before he upset Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal.

Home favourite Musetti lifted tour-level trophies in Hamburg and Naples this season, but was unable to find his best level in Milan, falling at the round-robin stage for the second consecutive season.

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Stricker Stays Undefeated In Milan Group Finale

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Stricker Stays Undefeated In Milan Group Finale

Swiss defeats Tseng, faces Lehecka in semis

With his position atop the Red Group already secured at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, Dominic Stricker stayed red-hot on Thursday in Milan with his third victory in as many days. The Swiss earned a 4-2, 4-1, 4-2 victory against Chun-Hsin Tseng to maintain his perfect record in the group stage, finalising at 3-0.

“It was not easy for me to come out here and play my best again because mentally, of course you’re already thinking a bit more of tomorrow, of the semis,” Stricker said post-match. “But I think handled it very well, I played a great match and I’m super happy with my performance. Now I can think all about tomorrow.”

He will next face Jiri Lehecka, who finished in second place in the Green Group, in Friday’s semi-finals.

Each of the first eight sets Stricker played were decided by tie-breaks, including all five against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti on Wednesday evening. But the 20-year-old quickly broke that pattern against Tseng in a match he dominated from start to finish.

Stricker broke at the first opportunity in each set and did not face a break point in sets two and three. The opening set was the most competitive, with Tseng closing to 2-3 by converting on his fifth break point, only to surrender serve — and the set — in the very next game.

“I think my serve again was very good today. It helped me a lot,” he said, one day after hitting a tournament-record 20 aces against Musetti. “My forehand was working great. I took the second serve pretty early. It helped me to keep the upper hand in the rallies. I’m super happy. He’s such a great player, he’s never losing the baseline, he’s such a great competitor. But I’m super happy with my game today and let’s hope the best for tomorrow.”

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Stricker finished with 24 winners in the 56-minute match, the only contest on the week to finish in under an hour.

The sixth-seeded Tseng, who won the opening set against Jack Draper on Wednesday, was the second Asian player to compete at the Intsa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals after Hyeon Chung won the 2017 title in the event’s first edition.

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Ram & Salisbury: Big Results On Big Stages

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Ram & Salisbury: Big Results On Big Stages

American-British team is seeded second in Turin

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury may not win a multitude of titles in a season, but the trophies they earn usually come at the most prestigious events the sport has to offer. So beware of this pair at the Nitto ATP Finals, where last year they went all the way to the final, falling just short against Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Expect another big run in Turin this year.

A standout 32-14 record this season has helped Ram and Salisbury qualify for their fourth appearance together at the Nitto ATP Finals. So they come into this year’s season finale with strong form and deep confidence.

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“It’s [at the] top of my list as far as favourite events to play,” Ram told “It’s such a special event to qualify for. We’ve been lucky enough to play it a few times, lost a tough one in the final last year. Just how tennis in general gets showcased, anytime we get to play it’s definitely an honour.”

The American-British team, who are No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, collected three titles this year and continued their trend of winning ‘the big ones’, including triumphing at the ATP Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati.

The duo carried its momentum from Cincinnati into New York, where they successfully defended their US Open crown. Ram and Salisbury claimed their third Grand Slam trophy together, having also won the 2020 Australian Open. The duo also enjoyed semi-final appearances at the Australian Open, BNP Paribas Open, and Wimbledon.

“Those [Masters 1000s and Grand Slams] are the ones we want to win, the big ones,” Salisbury said. “Even if it’s only a couple a year, those are the ones we are going for. I think it’s good we perform our best at those bigger tournaments. I think we plan our schedule to focus on those and to peak at those times.”

<a href=''>Joe Salisbury</a> (left) and <a href=''>Rajeev Ram</a> collect the title in Monte Carlo.
Joe Salisbury (left) and Rajeev Ram collect the title in Monte Carlo. Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Ram and Salisbury, who began their partnership at the beginning of 2019, played their first tournament together at the ATP 250 event in Brisbane [January 2019] and all signs indicated it would be a successful pairing. The duo completed a runner-up finish at its maiden event before claiming its first team title the following month in Dubai.

When Salisbury initially approached Ram, he patiently waited for a response from the American, who was at the ‘top of his list’. It didn’t take long for Ram to buy in and believe they had something going.

“I had played against Joe, lost both times I played him,” Ram said. “You never know [if it’s going to be successful] until you start. I really felt like we had a chance to do well together after we had a training block the December before we first started. It felt pretty natural on court together, felt like we had the same idea on continuing to try and get better and be the best we can be.”

The new partnership seemed easy for Ram and Salisbury. They quickly learned that their skill sets gel together well and after four seasons as partners, they’ve collected eight titles.

<a href=''>Rajeev Ram</a> (left) and <a href=''>Joe Salisbury</a> at the 2021 <a href=''>Nitto ATP Finals</a>.
Ram and Salisbury at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals. Credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

“I think we have quite similar skills on the court,” Salisbury said. “I think we are a good serving team and we support each other’s serves very well. I think we are a tough team to get broken. We work well together, we bring out the best in each other on court.”

“One of the reasons we combine as well as we do is he brings a lot of enthusiasm, athleticism,” Ram said. “He’s a little fresher and younger on the Tour. I think I can help on the experience side because I’ve been at this for awhile. We try and get the best out of each other in both of those aspects.”

Ram, who turned pro in 2004, is just two wins shy of a milestone 400th career win. As they set their sights on a strong run at the Nitto ATP Finals, Ram has a chance to reach the career mark on Italian soil.

“‘That means I’m old!’ Ram said, while cracking a laugh. “The fact that I’ve played that many matches and been able to be out here long enough to make a milestone like that is great. It’s a dream come true to play tennis for a living and to play for this long is extra special.”

Next week will be Ram’s sixth appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he is a two-time runner-up (2016 w/ Klaasen).

The American will be satisfied with nothing less than sharing the title with Salisbury.

The Nitto ATP Finals run 13-20 November in Turin, Italy.

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Kokkinakis & Kyrgios Set To Rock The House

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Kokkinakis & Kyrgios Set To Rock The House

The Aussies won two team titles this season

When Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios met in the opening round of the US Open, Kyrgios described it as ‘one of the most uncomfortable matches’ of his career. This time around, the Australians are set to compete in a more comfortable setting: doubles partners at the season-finale Nitto ATP Finals.

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios have always thrived on the big stage and the Aussie pair is anticipating bright lights yet again, this time in Turin, Italy.

“It’s [going to be] a pretty awesome experience,” Kokkinakis said. “I don’t think it’s something we expected coming into the year. To do it with such a good mate, there’s going to be good energy out there.”

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Kokkinakis and Kyrgios made the best possible use of a wild card at the Australian Open, where they collected their maiden major title. In front of an energised crowd in Rod Laver Arena, the pair won the all-Aussie clash between Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell, 7-5, 6-4.

While some claim, ‘practice makes perfect’, Kokkinakis and Krygios have had a dream season together with little to no doubles practice.

“We definitely don’t practise doubles at all. We don’t do any doubles drills or anything like that. Maybe it can be an advantage, maybe a disadvantage at times because we only do our own thing.”

Although they had played doubles together before, dating back to the 2013 Australian Open, the duo hadn’t found the success its relished until this year. The Aussies lifted their second title of the season at the ATP 250 event in Atlanta. Just two good mates enjoying the sport together has led to them qualifying for Turin.

<a href=''>Thanasi Kokkinakis</a> (left) and <a href=''>Nick Kyrgios</a> celebrate winning the <a href=''>Australian Open</a> title.
Thanasi Kokkinakis (left) and Nick Kyrgios celebrate winning the Australian Open title. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“I think we balance out each other well,” Kokkinakis said. “When the other one is down, we lift each other up. We both are captains at times whenever we need it.”

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios have also each claimed a singles title this year. Kokkinakis won his maiden Tour-level trophy on home soil at the Adelaide International 2 (January). During a summer hot-streak, Kyrgios won 15 of 16 matches, including reaching the Wimbledon singles final (l. Djokovic) and triumphing at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

At the US Open, Kyrgios won his first Tour-level meeting against his close friend Kokkinakis. ‘Special K’s’ haven’t veered too far from what they do well on the singles court to achieve doubles success.

“I think we bring our singles strengths onto the doubles court,” Kokkinakis said. “If we try and be doubles players instead of playing our [natural] game, it’s not going to come out too good for us. We’ll just play aggressive, serve big, and see what happens. I think we are going to continue to play singles on a doubles court.”

Close friends Kokkinakis and Kyrgios encountered each other in the <a href=''>US Open</a> opening round.
Close friends Kokkinakis and Kyrgios encountered each other in the US Open opening round. Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

When they step foot on Italian soil, a flock of tennis fans will be eager to see what the Aussies can do during their Nitto ATP Finals debut. Kokkinakis anticipates an energetic environment, much like what they’ve seen all season.

“It should be fun, it’s a new experience for us both,” Kokkinakis said. “It’s a massive event. We’d love to have the Italian fans going nuts.

“Wherever we’ve played this year the crowds have been packed with unbelievable energy. It’s pretty fun for us. Hopefully it can be a continuing thing going forward.”

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios, who have played just seven tournaments together this season, boast a 19-5 match record in 2022. At eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, the pair sets its sights on being crowned champion at the coveted Nitto ATP Finals.

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Nakashima Wins Green Group With Perfect Record

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Nakashima Wins Green Group With Perfect Record

American reaches Milan semi-finals for second consecutive year

Brandon Nakashima passed his Italian test with flying colours on Thursday, defeating Franceso Passaro 4-3(4), 4-2, 4-1 to reach the semi-finals at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

The American won his opening two Green Group matches in Milan, but knew a straight-sets defeat against Passaro would see him bundled out of the tournament at the expense of the 21-year-old.

However, as he has done throughout the season, Nakashima produced a resilient performance, overcoming Passaro and the crowd at the Allianz Cloud to secure victory after 61 minutes.

“I know he has had a great year this year. I thought my level was really high today,” Nakashima said. “It was nice to see it carrying over from yesterday. To come out and play like that was super special.”

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The 21-year-old’s win means he tops Green Group and will face either Lorenzo Musetti or Jack Draper in the semi-finals on Friday. Runner-up Jiri Lehecka will face Red Group winner Dominic Stricker. In an impressive performance, Nakashima blasted 17 winners and saved the one break point he faced to finish the round-robin stage with a 3-0 record.

Nakashima has now earned 33 tour-level wins this season. The World No. 49, who advanced to the semi-finals on debut in Milan last year, lifted his first tour-level trophy in San Diego in September.

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Nadal & Djokovic Drawn In Different Nitto ATP Finals Groups

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Nadal & Djokovic Drawn In Different Nitto ATP Finals Groups

Season finale to be played from 13-20 November

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will not be in the same Nitto ATP Finals group, it was revealed at the draw Thursday.

Nadal is the top seed at the year-end championships for the fifth time. The Spaniard, this year’s Australian Open and Roland Garros champion, will try to lift the season finale trophy for the first time. The lefty leads Green Group alongside Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz.

Seventh seed Novak Djokovic will try to make history at the Pala Alpitour. The five-time champion can tie Roger Federer’s record of six Nitto ATP Finals titles. Stefanos Tsitsipas tops Red Group with Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev. 

Three former Nitto ATP Finals titlists are in the field: Djokovic, Medvedev and Tsitsipas. The draw was held at Intesa Sanpaolo Headquarters in Turin.


Green Group
Rafael Nadal (1)
Casper Ruud (3)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (5)
Taylor Fritz (8)

Red Group
Stefanos Tsitsipas (2)
Daniil Medvedev (4)
Andrey Rublev (6)
Novak Djokovic (7)

The doubles draw was also revealed Thursday. Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, who in Paris clinched the year-end No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Doubles Team Ranking, headline Green Group with Nikola Mektic/Mate Pavic, Ivan Dodig/Austin Krajicek and Thanasi Kokkinakis/Nick Kyrgios. Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury lead Red Group with Marcelo Arevalo/Jean-Julien Rojer, Lloyd Glasspool/Harri Heliovaara and Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos.


Green Group
Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski (1)
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (4)
Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek (5)
Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios (8)

Red Group
Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (2)
Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer (3)
Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara (6)
Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (7)

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Detective Draper On Exploring The World

  • Posted: Nov 10, 2022

Detective Draper On Exploring The World

Briton picks his three dinner guests

British lefty Jack Draper has done his talking on the court this season, earning victories against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime en route to his current career-high No. 41 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The 20-year-old is competing at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals this week, earning his maiden match win on Wednesday. But what is Draper like off-court? caught up with him to find out.

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If you weren’t a tennis player, what job would you want and why?
I would be a detective. I’ve always been fascinated by crime. In a good way, of course. I feel like it would be quite an adrenaline rush of a job. And I like that sort of stuff. I like a lot of crime shows, but I’ve got nothing left to watch. I think I’ve completed it.

If you could have dinner with three people, who would they be and why?
There are a lot of controversial ones in there. I’d probably say Donald Trump. Conor McGregor. feel like we’ve got to have a comedian in there as well to liven it up a bit. So, I’d probably say Jimmy Carr. I think Trump and McGregor are fascinating people. They obviously got to the pinnacle of what they’ve done. Very successful. I just think it would be a lot of fun.

Describe your perfect day if you are not playing tennis?
My perfect day would be to wake up a bit later. I would see some friends, play a bit of Xbox and chill out, and then definitely as the day goes on, maybe 4pm, go out and have a few drinks. And then maybe have a nice meal and just be with good people and just have a great time.

Having a good solid dinner somewhere. Maybe a curry or something. Just enjoying the moment I suppose.

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Coming Of Age: Draper On Breakthrough Season

Who has had the greatest impact on your life and why?
I’d say there are so many people that have had a huge impact on my life, but I guess from a life perspective, not necessarily tennis, I’d say my mum. I love my mum to bits.

She’s everything to me. And she’s taught me pretty much all I know about my values as a human being. And she’s always been incredibly supportive of my journey as a tennis player as well. So she’s given me all these opportunities over the years and hopefully from now on I can start looking after her.

What is the most interesting thing you have done in your life?

I think the most interesting thing in my life compared to a lot of other people’s lives is I’ve had the ability to travel the world.

Whether I’ve gone to good places or not-so-amazing places, I’ve been to so many. I was thinking to myself the other day how many countries I’ve been to, which probably don’t even think about or register in my own mind as I’ve been there. I reckon I’ve probably been to 50-plus countries and experienced a lot of the world in good ways and in bad ways.

So I suppose that’s one thing compared to a lot of other people my age is that and it’s pretty specialist that I’ve been able to travel the world and see a lot of things. It’s amazing.

If you had to choose between attending a music concert or a sporting event, what would you choose and why?
I would go to a football game. Like a Celtic vs. Rangers or Man United vs. Man City or a Man United vs. Liverpool match. I think the atmosphere at a high-level sporting event is something special. As a fellow athlete, it always gives me the motivation to go and see other athletes and high performers do what they do best.

Have you got a hidden talent and can you tell me a bit about how you got into that?
It’s not really talent, but I’m terrible at cards. I’ve just started playing on my recent trips away. And I know cards are a bit of a luck game, but I can’t win anything.
I’m not unlucky anymore. I’m just bad at the game. My hidden talent is, I’m embarrassingly bad at cards.

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