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Olympic golden girl swings into Cinci

Serena using Ohio tournament as warmup event for U.S. Open

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CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Serena Williams arrived at the Western & Southern Open with an Olympic gold medal and a chance to win another tournament she had never won before.

Really, Serena, you haven't won here before.

During a pre-tournament news conference Monday, Williams was confused about whether she had taken a title in Cincinnati.

"I did win this tournament, didn't I?" she said. "Maybe I didn't. I can't keep up. I don't think I did. OK. Whoops."

She has played the Cincinnati tournament three times, her best showing a semifinal loss in 2006.

Williams followed-up her Wimbledon championship in July by overwhelming Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 to win the Olympics singles title.

The 31-year-old, ranked No. 4 in the world and seeded second at the $5.7 million event, spent a week training in Paris before arriving in Cincinnati. She still was basking in the glow of winning both the singles and, with older sister Venus, the Olympic doubles championship.

"It was really awesome to win both medals at the Olympics," she said. "I really wanted to win doubles. I know everyone was like, 'You haven't won the singles gold, and that's the only thing big career-wise move that you haven't won.' I was like trying to put that out of my mind. I went there really with doubles on my mind, so singles was the ultimate goal for me."

And those gold medals are safely tucked away.

"My gold medals are in a location I probably shouldn't say, in case someone wants to go and take them," she said. "They're not with me."

Williams now can turn her attention to closing out her hardcourt season, which ends with the U.S. Open starting Aug. 27 in New York. She said her recent success on grass does not have her wishing to play on it more.

"I actually never really liked grass. It's never been my favourite surface. Now, I like it, but I love hardcourts," she said.

One of her main goals at the U.S. Open will be avoiding run-ins with chair umpires and line judges, which have plagued her last two appearances. She's not sure if that is possible.

"My mind frame this year is that something is going to happen for sure because something always happens to me at the Open, whether it's a horrendous line call that's two feet in or whether it's a grunt and I get a point penalized or a foot fault when I actually don't foot fault," she said.

"I'm prepared for something to happen. Hopefully, if I get to the semifinals or finals, I'm really prepared and really going to count. I'm going to try to make it to 10, but if I don't, I don't, you know? Hey, I can't stop who I am, you know? I'm definitely going to start, 'one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight' and see how far I get."

Thirteenth-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov became the first player upset at Cincinnati, falling to 50th-ranked Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 6-1 in the first round Monday.

Davydenko, ranked as high as No. 3 on the tour in 2006 and 2007, needed just 52 minutes to oust Dolgopolov, who was coming off winning the Citi Open in Washington on Aug. 5.

Dolgopolov, a Ukrainian ranked 16th in the world, committed 26 unforced errors to just three by his Russian opponent.

Twelfth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia survived a challenge from qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky before advancing with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win.

In other men's action on the tournament's first full day, Andreas Seppi of Italy beat the Netherlands' Robin Hasse 6-4, 6-4; qualifier Jesse Levine beat Donald Young 6-4, 7-6 (2) in a matchup of Americans; Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu beat Poland's Lukasz Kubot 6-3, 6-0; and American wild-card Brian Baker outlasted Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4).

Serbian Victor Troicki beat Croatian qualifier Ivan Dodig 6-4, 7-5, Spain's Pablo Andujar cruised past Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic 6-4, 6-3, German Florian Mayer defeated qualifier Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-5, 6-2, and Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin eliminated France's Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-1.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 14, 2012 C8

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