CINCINNATI - Roger Federer would have hoped for more than just the few days of pause he managed after the London Olympic final, but will take what he can get as the world number one prepars for his start on Wednesday at the Cincinnati Masters.

The top seed said even his few days away to celebrate his 31st birthday with his wife and twin daughters was worthwhile for recuperation as he lays the groundwork for his final sprint of the abbreviated summer hardcourt season going into the US Open. “The last few years we always had at least a two, three-week preparation for the hard courts,” said the seven-time Wimbledon winner and Olympic silver medallist behind Andy Murray. “But this time we’ve just had two and a half weeks more on grass, so obviously I don’t think the preparation is as good as it’s been in the previous years.

“I’ve had better preparations, there’s no doubt about it, but it was definitely key for me to take some time off. I’m sort of in a tunnel vision right now from the French Open through Wimbledon, the Olympics. Until the US Open (starting August 27) I’m making sure I have enough rest, I play enough, and I stay injury-free.”

Federer owns four titles in Cincinnati, which he has played uninterruptedly since 2002. The Swiss expressed regret for the long-term knee injury absence of Rafael Nadal, who has not played for seven weeks since a Wimbledon second round loss and the flare-up up his chronic knee problems.

“I can’t believe he’s been out that long,” said the Swiss world number one. “I thought for sure we would see him in Toronto, but now he missed Toronto and Cincinnati. It’s very surprising, because it was nothing that we heard of prior to the injury. He played so well on clay, and then actually seemed fine at Wimbledon. He had more time by losing earlier at Wimbledon. It all came as big surprise, these two pull outs. I’m sad for him. I hope he’ll be back for the Open.” Old pro Nikolay Davydenko, a former top five threat, schooled Ukrainian young gun Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-1 in the first round. The 31-year-old Russian left Dolgopolov, eight years his junior, wondering what happened to the game which produced a title in Washington eight days ago on pre-US Open hardcourts.

Since beating German Tommy Haas for the final in the American capital, Dolgopolov has lost two matches, winning just four games in the process. Croatian 12th seed Marin Cilic beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 while American Brian Baker upset German 15th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/3). In women’s play, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, seeded 14th, lost to fellow Italian Camila Giorgi 6-1, 6-3.