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Brooks Koepka And Bryson DeChambeau’s Feud Won’t Be Brought To The US Open 

Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau have been making social media headlines this week as the two exchanged some heavy competitive words between one another on Twitter. 

While fans were hoping the feud would come to an epic head at the US Open, the two were drawn to be in separate groups for the opening two rounds of the Open this week. 

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Koepka most recently fueled the feud by rolling his eyes as DeChambeau walked behind him during a TV interview at last month’s US PGA Championship. The two golfers then proceeded to exchange some harsh words on social media. 

The legitimacy of the feud, however, is up for debate, because as we all know, sports are so much more entertaining when there’s some level of a personal rivalry. 

“Pretty much everything you look at online, it’s got this in the headline, or it’s up there as a big new story. To me, that’s growing the game. You’re putting it in front of eyeballs, you’re putting it in front of people who probably don’t normally look at golf, don’t play it. It might get them involved. I don’t know how it’s not growing the game,” Koepka claimed, admitting that the feud was good for the game. 

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DeChambeau’s agent, however, recently denied reports that his client declined an offer from the USGA to pair the two athletes together. 

“The USGA did not reach out to Bryson regarding a potential pairing with Brooks Koepka. Bryson is fully focused on defending the US Open at Torrey Pines this week.” 

Koepka also confirmed he had not been approached by the USGA: “It doesn’t matter to me, I play my own game. I don’t care who I’m paired with … What happens inside the ropes, it won’t bother me.”

DeChambeau, the defending US Open champion, will be playing alongside the current US amateur champion, Tyler Strafaci, and the winner of this year’s Masters, Hideki Matsuyama. Koepka is currently in a group with fellow former US PGA champions Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas. 

DeChambeau won his first major at last year’s US Open where he finished six shots ahead of Matthew Wolff. Koepka is a two-time US Open champion; he won the title back in 2017 and 2018.

Tennis

Serena Williams Reaches US Open Quarterfinals After Defeating Maria Sakkari 

Serena Williams played what experts are calling her best tennis match of the season yet this past Monday against Maria Sakkari. After an intense two and a half hours Serena beat Sakkari, this reaching her 53rd grand slam quarter-final position. 

12 days prior she faced off against Sakkari in what resulted in a much different outcome. She started that match with a solid 7-5, 5-3 lead and began serving for the win when Sakkari caught a second-wind and beat Williams, tying them up for the potential quarter-final position. In the third set of that match, Williams began to noticeably cramp which impacted her performance and allowed Sakkari to take the win. 

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“It was a completely different scenario and completely different moment. I just kept fighting and she was doing so well, being so aggressive. I knew that I needed to do the same thing.”

Sakkari has been thought of as one of the most improved pro-tennis players within the past few years. She credits part of her success to her coach, Thomas Hill, who helped her go from top 50 status to number 22 in the world. In the beginning of game 3 this Monday, Sakkari started strong by throwing down three aces, however, Williams quickly retaliated, saving all three break points giving her control over the serve. 

Once she was able to hold serve her momentum was visibly unstoppable. However, it was clear that Sakkari was in no position to back down from facing the world’s greatest tennis player, especially with a quarterfinal position on the line. Williams was able to blow off her four set points, but found it difficult to keep up and by the end of the second set Sakkari has hit more winners and aces, giving her a 2-0 lead. However, Williams fought back just as hard, winning her three more games. 

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At this point the scoring was at 3-3- and 30-30, but Williams saw the end result she wanted and took it after hitting an ace that was measured at reaching a speed of 124 miles-per-hour, giving her the win and quarterfinal position. 

Williams is no stranger to grand slam finals as most know. Between 2018 and 2019, Williams lost a total of four grand slam finals, however, she’s still referred to as one of the stars of those finals for the phenomenal matches she played. This season, fans began to notice a shift in her game; she appeared to move slower and lose her timing a lot easier. However, Williams used these critiques as motivation to do better, and at the Arthur Ashe Stadium she completely turned a corner and began taking wins every chance she got. 

Williams is now set to face off against Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova; a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2010 who briefly retired from tennis after the birth of her son. The US Open this year is her first event back playing pro-tennis, and fans couldn’t be more excited that she’s making her comeback against Williams, as they know the two are definitely going to put on a nail-biter of a match.

Tennis

What It’s Like To Be A Low-Ranked Tennis Player On The Tour

Marina Yudanov is the 536th best tennis player in the world. It is an unremarkable statistic that hides a remarkable story. Back at the start of 2017, Yudanov, 29, was earning more than £30,000 a year as an engineer for Volvo in her native Sweden.

She was financially secure and settled, physically at least, in the buzzing second city of Gothenburg. But something was missing. That was when she threw herself into the cut-throat world of a hustling lower-level tennis pro, in search of what might have been.

She funds this testing journey herself, giving everything on court and scrimping everywhere off it. Mammoth road trips over expensive plane tickets, cheap rental flats instead of hotels, sometimes sharing a twin room with the player she is facing the next day.

“Nothing of what I say is me whining or complaining, I really am not,” Yudanov says. “I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to do this but it is very difficult.” Yudanov was once a teenage national champion, but a promising junior career flamed out as the pressures of academia, adolescence and sporting excellence bore down on her.

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“I had been in the top juniors of my age, ranked 250 in the world at 16. But all those things were too much for me,” she says. “I was hanging out with people who were not good for me, smoking, drinking and seeing older men. I thought, ‘I hate this’ and I walked away when I was 18.”

For the next six years, Yudanov didn’t pick up a racquet. But tennis crept back into her life, first as a practice partner for a friend, then as a tentative competitor in national tournaments. Then, aged 27, she handed in her notice. “I had got myself somewhere with a good salary, but every single day I just wanted to get out on court and compete,” she adds.

“I was getting up at 5am to go and do some kind of fitness before work and directly after work I would go and play tennis. It would fill my existence. People at work were like ‘oh that is great, follow your dream’. In the back of their head they thought: ‘What the hell does this girl think she is doing, quitting her job to travel the world and lose money playing tennis?’”

And losing money, certainly at the start, is pretty much inevitable. As an unranked player, as Yudanov was in the summer of 2017, you are a freelance bounty-hunter. Starting a tennis career from scratch involves searching out tournaments with tiny pots of prize money and ranking points, which in turn give you a chance to enter the next tier of slightly larger events and slowly inch your way up the sport’s greasy pole.

Yudanov began with 20,000 euros of family savings, approximately £18,000, to help her cover the costs of travel, accommodation and equipment as she started out. Every decision in her career is an investment. A wager that she will collect enough points and prize money at an individual event to offset her costs.

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The major purchase she would make to help her career if she came into some unexpected money would be a campervan or motorhome to travel to tournaments in. “There are a lot of mental sums in deciding the itinerary,” Yudanov says.

“You check and see if the prize money and the points on offer and if your ranking is going to be good enough to get you in. If there are very few tournaments on a particular week globally, then you are going to have to travel further to find one because the fields will be stronger.

“If I go long haul, can I afford the investment of a plane ticket over there? Can I be there a few days in advance to cope with the jet lag or is that too expensive? Is there another player who might make the journey as well who I could share costs with and practice with? It is a gamble every time.”

Yudanov knows her rewards from tennis won’t be measured in millions of dollars. The bottom line for her is that initial family investment in a last grab at a disappearing dream. She has stemmed the rapid losses she incurred as she found her way on the professional circuit, but is down to her last 5,000 euros, about £4,400.

“I don’t have 10 years ahead of me to keep playing,” she says. “How much time do I have left to keep doing this and how long can I justify playing full time? My end goal is to make a living from competitive tennis. If I get there I want to play forever. Because tennis is where I show everything that I am.”