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[en] Highlights: • A theoretical interpretation is presented for deep crack of W monoblocks at 20 MW/m"2. • A consecutive process of crack initiation and growth was modeled in two stages. • The lifetime to crack initiation and the driving force of fracture are assessed. • Numerical predictions in this study agree well with the experimental findings. - Abstract: The HHF qualification tests conducted on the ITER divertor target prototypes showed that the tungsten monoblock armor suffered from deep cracking due to fatigue, when the applied high-heat-flux load approaches 20 MW/m"2. In spite of the critical implication of the deep cracking of armor on the structural integrity of a whole target component, no rigorous interpretation has been given to date. In this paper, a theoretical interpretation of the observed deep cracking feature is presented. A two-stage modeling approach is employed where deep cracking is thought to be a consecutive process of crack initiation and crack growth, which is assumed to be caused by plastic fatigue and brittle facture, respectively. The fatigue lifetime to crack initiation on the armor surface and the crack tip load of brittle fracture are assessed as a function of crack length and heat flux loads. The potential mechanisms of deep cracking are discussed for a typical slow transient high-heat-flux load cycle. It is shown that the quantitative predictions delivered in this study agree well with the observed findings offering insight into the nature of tungsten armor failure.