Mats Wilander, the world’s No. 2-ranked player who has started slowly this year, was upset Saturday by Argentina’s Alberto Mancini in the third round of the International Players Championships.
Mancini, seeded 31st in the two-week tournament, defeated the defending champion, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Mancini’s strong cross-court backhand is among the best he has seen, Wilander said.
“I knew he was really good, but I didn’t think he could keep it up for that long,” said Wilander, who won three Grand Slam events in 1988 but is off to a 3-3 start this year.
“I thought he played really well. It seemed he was doing all the right things.”
Wilander lost his No. 1 ranking to Ivan Lendl after being beaten by Ramesh Krishnan of India in the second round of the Australian Open. He entered the International Players Championships with a 1-2 record after countryman Mikael Pernfors defeated him in a first-round match of the WCT Championships at Dallas.
Wilander said his biggest problem has been a lack of playing time in tournaments but he was encouraged after beating David Pate and Scott Warner last week in the tournament.
But when Mancini, 19, broke him for a 2-1 lead in the third set, Wilander began to sense the match slipping away.
Mancini, ranked 41st, said: “I felt stronger and felt like if I could win the second set, he would have a hard time beating me.
Yannick Noah, seeded 12th, avoided an upset by overcoming a two-set deficit to defeat Alexander Volkov of the Soviet Union, 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
In another five-setter, Carl Uwe-Steeb outlasted Jim Courier, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. Steeb defeated third-seeded Andre Agassi in the first round.
Earlier, Gabriela Sabatini won her third consecutive match in straight sets, dominating Belinda Cordwell of New Zealand, 6-2, 6-1, to reach the fourth round of the women’s draw of the $2.1-million event.
The top-seeded Sabatini, 18, has bounced back from a third-round loss in the Virginia Slims of Florida tournament with impressive victories over Elly Hakami, Catherine Suire and Cordwell.
She hasn’t lost a game in three of the six sets and defeated Cordwell in 70 minutes to set up a fourth-round match against Anne Grossman.
Helena Sukova and Lori McNeil, seeded third and 10th, also advanced during the day session at the International Tennis Center. Meanwhile, sixth-seeded Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria and No. 12 Arantxa Sanchez of Spain lost in straight sets.
In men’s play, fifth-seeded Jakob Hlasek of Switzerland beat Mark Kratzmann of Australia, 6-4, 6-0, 6-4; No. 14 Mikael Pernfors defeated Mexico’s Leonardo Lavalle 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, and Jim Grabb upset 16th-seeded Darren Cahill of Australia, 6-4, 0-6, 7-6, 6-1.
Sukova, of Czechoslovakia, defeated Barbara Paulus of Austria, 6-1, 6-2, and McNeil downed Tine Scheuer-Larsen of Denmark, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Maleeva was hampered by two sore ankles and lost to Isabelle Demongeot of France, 6-3, 6-2. She hurt her left ankle in a tournament at Indian Wells three weeks ago and injured her right ankle here in a second-round victory over Gigi Fernandez.
Gretchen Magers upset Sanchez, 7-5, 6-3, and Grossman advanced to her match against Sabatini with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Halle Cioffi.