Tennis: Likhovtseva's surprise for Seles

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ELENA LIKHOVTSEVA upset the second seed Monica Seles and Henrieta Nagyova eliminated the defending champion Amanda Coetzer from the Family Circle Cup on Thursday.

Neither Likhovtseva, a 23-year-old Russian with seven years on the tour, nor Nagyova, a 20-year-old Slovak with five years as a professional, is a fresh face on the circuit anymore but both players delivered significant victories to reach the quarter-finals at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Likhovtseva surprised Seles 7-6, 6-2 in the rain-delayed night match after Nagyova breezed past Coetzer, the fifth-seeded South African, 6- 2, 6-3.

"She just played a lot better than I did," admitted Seles after falling to Likhovtseva. "After she won the first set, I definitely got down on myself, but she still played some great tennis."

The match score was the mirror opposite of a hard-court match between the two players last month at Indian Wells, California, when Seles won. "It was definitely a slower court. It was harder for me to finish off points on clay," Seles said.

Seles appeared to be overwhelming Likhovtseva at times with her two-fisted groundstrokes, only to see the Russian hit the lines or deliver a big serve. "I thought this time if I won the first set, the second set would be easier," said Likhovtseva, the tournament's 14th seed and world-ranked 22nd.

Nagyova earned a place in yesterday's quarter-finals against the third- seeded Czech Jana Novotna, a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 winner over the 13th seed, Silvia Farina of Italy. The top seed, Martina Hingis, beat the 10th seed, Conchita Martinez, 7-5, 6-1, the previous day.

"Last year I didn't win against a player in the top 10 and now I beat Monica [Seles] two weeks ago and now Amanda," Nagyova said.

Results, Digest, page 25