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After a Six-Month Layoff, Serena Williams Wins Easily

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Serena Williams, playing her first tournament in six months, defeated Anastasia Myskina, 6-2, 6-2, on Tuesday night in the first round of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open at Mason, Ohio.

“I felt really relaxed,” Williams said after dominating Myskina in the 56-minute match.

“I haven’t felt this way in a long time.”

Williams, who has been bothered by a chronic left knee injury, chose the Tier III event for her first match since losing in the third round of the Australian Open.

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“I almost could have played Wimbledon,” she said. “I was about 60 or 70% then. But I probably would have had an embarrassing loss.”

Williams said she was mentally refreshed, but felt a bit rusty.

“I could have returned better. I made a few easy errors I shouldn’t have made,” she said.

In an earlier match, fifth-seeded Jelena Jankovic advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Olga Savchuk.

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Andy Roddick won his first singles match since losing in the third round of Wimbledon, defeating Ramon Delgado, 6-3, 6-2, in the second round of the RCA Championships in Indianapolis.

Defending champion Robby Ginepri rallied to defeat Alejandro Falla, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, with an instant replay challenge overturning a key point.

Third-seeded Fernando Gonzalez defeated Sam Querrey, 6-3, 6-4.

Total U.S. Open prize money will be $18.5 million this year, increasing $750,000 from last year’s tournament, and the men’s and women’s singles champions will each get $1.2 million.

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The money for each of the singles champions and the total purse are the highest of any of the Grand Slams. The overall payout for singles players will increase 6.7%, the U.S. Tennis Assn. announced.

Defending champion Anabel Medina Garrigues defeated Laura Pous Tio, 6-3, 6-1, in the first round of the Palermo International at Palermo, Sicily.

Top-seeded Guillermo Coria won his first match since April, defeating Robin Haase, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, at the Priority Telecom Open at Amersfoort, Netherlands.

Second-seeded Tomas Berdych defeated Hugo Armando, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round of the Mercedes Cup at Stuttgart, Germany.

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HOCKEY

Islanders Fire Smith and Hire Snow

Neil Smith was abruptly fired after less than a month as general manager of the Islanders and replaced by New York goalie Garth Snow, who retired to take over the position.

Islanders owner Charles Wang said Smith told him he had difficulty working within the team’s revamped front office.

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“In light of our differences, I felt that I had no choice but to make this decision,” Wang said in a statement.

Smith replaced Mike Milbury on June 8.

Snow joins an overhauled organization that includes new Coach Ted Nolan, player development director Bryan Trottier, chief amateur scout Tony Feltrin and pro scouting director Ken Morrow. Newsday reported that senior advisor Pat LaFontaine resigned.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed veteran center Michael Peca to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

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The Carolina Hurricanes acquired forward Scott Walker from Nashville in exchange for center Josef Vasicek.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

UCLA Players Hale, Ward Plead No Contest

UCLA freshmen players John Hale and Jess Ward pleaded no contest to one-count of misdemeanor assault at San Bernardino County Superior Court in connection to a house-party fight in February.

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Hale and Ward were fined $130 and placed on informal probation for their involvement in a brawl at the home of Ward’s parents in Running Springs.

“Now that the legal proceedings have concluded, I will meet with John and Jess and then decide on the appropriate disciplinary action,” UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said in a statement.

-- Lonnie White

A revised lawsuit filed by the parents of Missouri player Aaron O’Neal, who died during preseason workouts last year, targets the unfamiliarity of the team’s trainers and assistant coaches with the symptoms and exercise-induced complications of sickle cell trait.

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MISCELLANY

Redlands’ Coach Smith Plans to Step Down

Gary Smith, the basketball coach at Redlands, will step down after the 2006-07 season.

Smith’s teams are known for their up-tempo style, setting a Division III record of 132.4 points a game in the 2004-05 season.

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A team dominated by players from Southern California will try to help the U.S. advance in FINA World League men’s water polo competition when semifinal-round competition begins today and continues through Sunday at the U.S. Water Polo National Training Center in Los Alamitos.

The opening round tonight features Canada vs. France at 5:45, Australia vs. Brazil at 7:15 and the Americans taking on China at 9. Two teams will advance from the tournament to the final, Aug. 2-6 in Athens.

Former Washington State guard Josh Akognon, who led the Cougars in scoring last season with a 10.3 average, will transfer to Cal State Fullerton.

Paula Smith was named associate athletic director/senior woman administrator at UC Irvine. She held a similar position the past eight years at UC Riverside.

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Dallas Cowboys safety Keith Davis, shot in the head and thigh while driving on a Dallas highway early Sunday, was released from the hospital. Team officials said there is a good chance he will be at training camp next week in Oxnard.

Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro remained stable with normal vitals in Kennett Square, Pa., the fifth consecutive day without a setback since veterinarians removed most of the hoof wall in his left rear leg because of a severe case of laminitis. Dr. Dean Richardson was pleased with how the colt did under light sedation in his sling.

John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, 94, became the oldest professional baseball player when he competed in a minor-league all-star game in Kansas City, Kan. O’Neil surpassed Jim Eriotes, who was 83 when he competed in a minor league game earlier this month in South Dakota.


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