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Matt Cronin's Day 2 picks

Serena Williams
By Matt Cronin
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

3-Roger Federer vs. Marinko Matosevic

With a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, Federer has been ‘the man’ for about eight years, but he has not won a major since 2012. Although the Swiss has been spectacular overall (winner of an amazing five US Opens), he is now 33 years old, which makes him the elder member of the “Big Four,” which includes Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. In the past four years [Djokovic nailed three majors in 2011 and Nadal also won three Slams in 2010] the other three guys have looked like they were passing an aging Federer.
 
But this week is different. Nadal – who won the 2013 US Open – is out, Murray has not been the same since a back surgery last fall, and Djokovic has been flat, losing early at Toronto and Cincinnati.
 
So even though Federer has not won a Slam since the 2012 Wimbledon, all of a sudden the Swiss looks like he could win again at the US Open.

At the start of this year, Federer hired Stefan Edberg as his new coach, and he began to rise again. He has pushed harder at the net, and his backhand has been more fluid.

In July, Federer nearly won another Wimbledon, but Djokovic pulled off an amazing fifth set. Still, Federer’s performance announced to the world—and to his opponents—that he was still a force to be reckoned with. And he’d like nothing more than to win here again.

In his first-round match Tuesday night, he will face off against Australian Matosevic, who can be very aggressive but who is up and down. Federer is obviously the superior talent, but he has to let it all hang out. If he is going to win the title here again, Roger is going to have to go for his shots as frequently as he can. This match should provide him the opportunity to do just that. Federer wins in three.   
 
1-Serena Williams vs. Taylor Townsend
 
After a disappointing season at the Slams, Williams began to push herself hard in July, deciding that she would play three straight tournaments in an effort to strike as many balls as possible. Eventually, her game returned, and now she is in the hunt for another Slam, currently sitting on 17 Slam singles titles.
 
Williams is 31 years old and could continue for many years to come. Tonight, she faces Townsend, who is a lot younger (16) and cracks the ball, hustles hard and likes the big show.

Townsend recently qualified in Washington and Cincinnati; good stuff overall. She took a tight match in Cincy against former US Open semifinalist Flavia Pennetta. She likes to dictate her forehand and can crack her first serve, but she still has to work to improve.

Williams is back and is not only looking good off the ground, but her serves are hot and heavy, and she has been moving well, racing down balls and digging them out from either side.

This contest will be fun to watch, but even though Townsend will put up a good fight, Williams is striking very clean and will win in straight sets.
 
Other Picks:

The Arthur Ashe Stadium match between Alison Riske and No. 8 Ana Ivanovic could be very close, as the American Riske has improved her hard-court play quite a bit and did play very well during the 2013 US Open. But Ivanovic is more mature this year and wants to push hard into the second week. Take Ivanovic in three sets.

The star of 2014 NCAA men’s singles champion Marcos Giron from UCLA is rising, but another former NCAA champ, No. 13 John Isner, has been around much longer and is very comfortable on the court. Isner will take this match in three tight sets.

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova just won New Haven again and is on a roll. She has never played well at the US Open, but she is due and will take down the hard-hitting Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets.

Over in Louis Armstrong Stadium, American Sam Querrey will overcome Maximo Gonzalez, but it will take five sets.

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard has been amazing at the Slams this year but has been shaky in her hard-court contests. But she will play steady and take down Olga Govortsova in straight sets.
 
The young American Madison Keys is due to make a splash and will quickly best Australiian Jarmila Gajdosova.

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