The slowest start of Mats Wilander's career got worse Saturday when the world's second-ranked tennis player lost to Argentina's Alberto Mancini in the third round of the International Players Championships.

Mancini, seeded 31st in this two-week tournament, rallied after losing the first set to upset the defending champion 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. He hurt Wilander repeatedly with a strong cross-court backhand the Swede said is among the best he's ever seen."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.

Wilander lost his No. 1 ranking after losing to Ramesh Krishnan in the second round of the Australian Open. He entered the International Players Championships with a 1-2 record after Mikael Pernfors beat him in a first-round match at the WCT Championships in Dallas.

While Wilander fell, 12th-seeded Yannick Noah avoided an upset by overcoming a two-set deficit to defeat Alexander Volkov of the Soviet Union 5-7, 6-7 (8-6), 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

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.

Seeded No. 1 in the absence of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, the 18-year-old from Argentina 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.