HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) -- Anna Kournikova's trip to the Family Circle Cup ended like a lot of her tennis tournaments -- with an early exit and a lot of questions.
Kournikova, seeded sixth in an event Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and both Venus and Serena Williams chose to skip, fell to 11th-seeded Ruxandra Dragomir on Thursday, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Kournikova flew through the draw here a year ago before falling to Hingis in the final. But she could not find a way to get to the third round this time.
''Every loss is disappointing,'' she said. ''I think I got a bit tired at the end of the match, and I wasn't as patient.''
Those waiting for Kournikova to break through and live up to her potential are also losing patience. How long will it be before she wins on the WTA Tour?
''I just started,'' she said with as much sass as she could muster. ''I have maybe 10 years more. I think I'll accomplish something.''
While Kournikova is finished, the top four seeds -- Mary Pierce, Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario -- all moved into the quarterfinals.
Seles, seeded third, had the most trouble, but survived a third-set tiebreaker to beat No. 9 Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5).
Seles, who won the season's first clay-court tournament at Amelia Island, Fla., last week, continued her strong play against Likhovtseva, who ousted Seles here a year ago.
This time, Seles fought back when Likhovtseva rolled through the second set and led 6-5 in the third. The seven-time Grand Slam champion nailed a 103 mph ace and zipped a forehand past Likhovtseva to force the tiebreaker.
Seles was defeated in third-set tiebreakers at Sea Pines Racquet Club in the 1997 final by Hingis and the 1998 semifinals by Irina Spirlea. Seles trailed 2-0 in this one.
With the packed crowd urging her on, Seles hit a backhand winner to take her first lead, 4-3. Likhovtseva saved two match points before pushing a forehand wide, and Seles was spared another close defeat.
''I was really frustrated with my serve, and it just let me down a lot in the match,'' said Seles, who will next face Dragomir. ''I let Elena come back tons of times, and here I said 'This is happening in the tiebreak.' I was lucky she just missed that shot on match point.''
Seles already has had a memorable season, winning at Oklahoma City and Amelia Island and reaching the semifinals of the Ericsson Open before losing to Hingis 6-0, 6-0. Seles knows she's still far from the form that won three straight French Opens from 1990-92.
''I'm playing some good tennis, but also I have huge drops in my game,'' Seles said. ''Today, I definitely had some huge drops and then I had some really good highs, so hopefully, I'll get a little bit more consistent in a couple of aspects of my game.''
Likhovtseva said she would close in and overtake Seles, then wait for her opponent to falter. ''She's not the kind of player who does that too often,'' Likhovtseva said.
Pierce defeated Anna Smashnova 6-1, 6-2 after beating Gala Leon Garcia in 48 minutes in the previous round. Next, Pierce meets Dokic, who defeated Pierce in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Martinez, who won this title in 1994-95, won 10 of her last 11 games in topping Florencia Labat 6-3, 6-0.
Sanchez-Vicario, also a former Family Circle winner, struggled early before moving past Patty Schynder 7-5, 6-1.
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