The Spaniard, who is the second seed and defending champion, was hoping the start to the clay-court season would give her a new lease on life.
``I'm in a very tough [stretch]," said Sanchez just one day after being encouraged by her victory in her first match this year on clay. Sanchez has a disappointing 8-7 match record this year and has not won a tournament since last May despite reaching numerous finals.
"I think any athlete goes through that, some ups and downs in their life, and it's happening to me for the first time in 12 years as a professional. But I just have to keep going," Sanchez said.
The tournament also lost its third seed, Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic, a semi-finalist here last year. She was beaten by the 14th-seeded Brenda Schultz-McCarthy 6-3, 6-3.
While other top players struggled, the new world No 1, Martina Hingis, keeps on winning. The 16-year-old Swiss raised her 1997 match record to an unblemished 28-0 with a 6-3, 6-3 third-round victory over the Austrian Barbara Schett.
``I was hitting a big forehand today, which is not very usual for me, but I was playing very well and at a good standard for my game," said Hingis, who is aiming for her sixth title of the year.
n Leg cramps forced Goran Ivanisevic to retire from his European/African zone Group One Davis Cup singles rubber yesterday, giving Austria a 1- 0 lead over Croatia. Ivanisevic retired in the fifth set after three and a half hours to hand Austria's Gilbert Schaller a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 2-6, 3-1 victory.