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Maria Sharapova's victory especially sweet at U.S. Open

Maria Sharapova, of Russia, serves to Melinda Czink,

Maria Sharapova, of Russia, serves to Melinda Czink, of Hungary, during the first round of play at the 2012 US Open Tennis tournament, Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Mike Groll) Photo Credit: AP Photo Mike Groll

Maria Sharapova could look at her long layoff this way: A stomach bug hasn't allowed her to play since she was steamrolled in last month's Olympic final by Serena Williams.

OK, so no tennis, but she did have some time to market her new line of gummie candies known as Sugarpova that are now available at Henri Bendel in New York for $5 a bag. Too much sampling, perhaps?

"I had some tests done, some blood work, some ultrasound stuff,'' Sharapova said Monday after she won her opening match at the U.S. Open over Melinda Czink, 6-2, 6-2. "They said I should probably just rest . . . I think it was a sign I needed a few weeks off.''

Still, was she concerned she couldn't get rid of the pain?

"It was really weird,'' she said. "They told me I was fine, not pregnant. I'm like, 'Can I get my money back?' ''

The monthlong rest comes after a quite successful season. She lost in the final of the Australian Open to the then-red hot Victoria Azarenka, the No. 1 seed here. She won the French Open, and lost finals to Azarenka in Indian Wells and Agnieszka Radwanska in Miami. And she got to carry the Russian flag at the Olympics in London.

"It was an incredible experience,'' she said. "For me to be a first-time Olympian, leave with a silver medal, carry the flag for my country.''

Since there wasn't much of a match to discuss, the talk turned to her marketplace competition with Roger Federer, who has a line of Lindor chocolate truffles.

"Well, that's chocolate. Mine are gummies and gumballs,'' Sharapova said. "That's made in Switzerland, this is made in Spain . . . It depends on what your preference is. Midafternoon, I'm not a big truffle person. I'm more of a gum girl.''

Samantha Stosur has yet to cash in on a candy line after her U.S. Open victory last year, but the defending champion didn't have to burn many calories in a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Petra Martic. It was the opening match at Arthur Ashe Stadium and practically devoid of spectators.

Stosur reeled off the first 19 points of her match and just for a second thought about the "golden set,'' a 6-0 set without giving up a point. "It did pop into my head for a split second,'' she said. "Then I hit a double-fault and it was erased.''

Azarenka also had an easy time, routing Alexandra Panova of Russia, 6-0, 6-1.

Kim Clijsters, the three-time U.S. Open champion who is saying goodbye to tennis after this tournament, defeated 16-year-old American Victoria Duval, 6-3, 6-1, in the opening night match on Ashe. To Duval's credit, she lost the first two games of the first set, then won three straight before the stronger and faster Clijsters took over.

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