Rosie Casals picks Roger Federer to turn back the clock

The US Open men’s field looks to be a three-man race, and Rosie Casals likes the old man of the group, 34-year-old Roger Federer.

At Cincinnati, Federer showed a more aggressive game and dominated No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final.

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“My choice is always going to be Roger,” Casals said. “He played (Djokovic in Cincinnati) the way he should be playing tennis, serve-and-volleying. His serve is worth a million dollars when he gets that first serve in. When he gets that first serve in, everything else is gravy.”

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As the top-ranked player in the world, Djokovic will be the favorite.

Djokovic is considered the best hardcourt player in tennis, particularly because of his domination of the Australian Open and the American hard court circuit in the spring, which includes Masters series events the BNP Paribas Open and the one in Miami.

But Djokovic has only won one US Open title.

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Andy Murray will have some momentum going into the US Open, having beaten Djokovic in the Rogers Cup finals in Canada. Casals said she also likes what she’s seeing from Murray’s coach Amelie Mauresmo.

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As for Nadal, Casals thinks he has to have a better serve. She also wonders if Nadal can adjust his game like Federer did to find longevity.

Who do you think will win the US Open? Here’s a chance to be heard. You can vote on the link below.

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Is the glass half full or half empty for Novak Djokovic going into the US Open?

Novak Djokovic speaks during a press conference at the BNP Paribas Open in March, 2015.

Novak Djokovic speaks during a press conference at the BNP Paribas Open in March, 2015.

Another week, another final that slipped through No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Heading into the US Open, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Taking the good side, Djokovic played well to reach back-to-back finals in Masters Series, losing to Andy Murray in the Rogers Cup and Roger Federer on Sunday in Cincinnati. Obviously he’s playing well enough to reach the finals, beating a lot of top players.

Djokovic created momentum heading into the US Open with all those matches. And he’s won many despite not playing his best, by his own accounts.

But the bad side is that Djokovic hasn’t dominated the hard court season in the summer like he did in the spring. At the start of the year, he won the Australian Open, the BNP Paribas Open and Miami for a very impressive trifecta. By Djokovic’s high standards, he’s a little off.

Many have called Djokovic the best hard court player, but he has never won the title in Cincinnati despite five appearances in the finals. And in Flushing, Djokovic has been very good, but only has one US Open title, which came in 2011. He also reached the US Open finals in 2007, ’10, ’12, and ’13.

Prior to these two weeks, Djokovic looked like the head-and-shoulders favorite to win the US Open, coming off his Wimbledon title and his dominant spring. And with their victories, Federer and Murray look like much more dangerous contenders for the title than two weeks ago.

At 34, Federer has fought off father time to remain a serious contender. In Cincinnati, Federer used an aggressive attack, and his service game has been dominant. If he keeps that up, Federer will be tough to stop.

Murray, who had been struggling to regain his form since back surgery at the end of 2013, the year he won Wimbledon. While Murray hasn’t yet played as well as he did in 2013, he has been playing good enough to win a major, and his Rogers Cup title could give him enough confidence to get over the hump at the US Open.

So instead of looking like the clear favorite, Djokovic will now be in a three-man battle for the title. And there will be some dangerous floaters in the field, including Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and last year’s US Open finalists Kei Nishikori and defending champion Marin Cilic.

It should make for an exciting US Open.

Belinda Bencic is the real deal, not just because she beat Serena Williams

Caroline Wozniacki plays Belinda Bencic in a third round match on Stadium 3 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California on Monday, March 16, 2015. (Photo by Grace Donnelly/BNP Paribas Open)

Caroline Wozniacki plays Belinda Bencic in a third round match on Stadium 3 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California on Monday, March 16, 2015.
(Photo by Grace Donnelly/BNP Paribas Open)

Probably the first time many people heard of 18-year-old Belinda Bencic was last week when she upset No. 1 Serena Williams in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Some of the ESPN talk shows thought it was more about Williams and she wouldn’t be so fortunate if they meet again at the US Open.

They might be right, but they shouldn’t write off Bencic without knowing something about her.

Bencic made a splash in March, when she upset former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. Wozniacki had reached the US Open final six months earlier. What made the victory even more impressive is that Wozniacki had double-bageled her in Istanbul in their previous meeting.

What was impressive about Bencic is she didn’t lead a 6-0, 6-0 loss derail her. She’s continued to rise. Now she’s No. 12 and could go up even higher by the US Open.

Here’s a look back at the story I wrote for the BNP Paribas Open website on Bencic. http://www.bnpparibasopen.com/en/media-and-news/news/2015/03/16/bencic-upsets-wozniacki

At the Rogers Cup, Bencic had to defeat six top-25 players to win the title: No. 25 Eugenie Bouchard in the first round, No. 5 Wozniacki in the second, No. 24 Sabine Lisicki in the third round, No. 6 Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round and then No. 3 Simona Halep in the final.

Last year, Bencic reached the quarterfinals of the US Open, which helped her win the WTA Newcomer of the Year award.

In 2013, Bencic won the Wimbledon and French Open girls junior titles.

A Swiss player, Bencic is getting help from Melanie Molitor, the mother of Martina Hingis. And the Swiss players are having quite a year. Timea Bacsinszky has had quite a comeback year this season.

But Bencic has proven she is the future of the WTA. The way she’s playing, the future could be now.