WASHINGTON -- Arantxa Sanchez Vicario is trying hard to keep her concentration level at a peak this week in the Virginia Slims of Washington tennis tournament.
Sanchez, No. 4 in the world, won't have a chance to meet Monica Seles, No. 2, since Seles decided to pass up the 44th stop on the women's pro tour in favor of taking a break before next week's U.S. Open.
"It would be much better if Monica were here," said Sanchez. "I was surprised to hear it [Seles' withdrawal after she said she was mistakenly entered in the tournament]. I'll just have to play my matches and worry about my game."
Sanchez, seeded second behind the absent top seed Seles, did exactly that last night in a second-round match.
Sanchez, 20, cruised past unseeded Regina Rajchrtova of Czechoslovakia, 6-4, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals.
Earlier in the day, Pam Shriver was sharp in a 6-2, 6-3
opening-round victory over South Africa's Elna Reinach.
Shriver was never in trouble against Reinach, who had no shots that could hurt the Lutherville player.
Shriver served and volleyed her way past Reinach, 22, in 61 minutes and also moved well around the court.
It was the fourth victory for Shriver in four career matches against Reinach.
Third seed Mary Joe Fernandez, ranked No. 5 in the world, won her opening-round match without too much trouble yesterday afternoon. Fernandez, of Miami, ousted unseeded Mariaan de Swardt of South Africa, 6-4, 6-1, in 69 minutes.
In a mild opening-round surprise, Czechoslovakia's Radka Zrubakova defeated Natalia Zvereva of the Soviet Union, 6-4, 7-5.
Zvereva, No. 20 in the world, said her luggage was lost on a flight to Washington and she seemed to be troubled by the coup in the Soviet Union in which President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was ousted.
"I really don't want to talk about it [coup]," said Zvereva. "I'm not that experienced in things like that."
Zrubakova is ranked 28th in the world.
As unseeded Shriver, 29, continues her comeback from shoulder surgery that idled her nine months last year, she again showed a new, more steely nerved approach to the game.
The emotional displays that marked her game when she once rose as high as No. 3 in the world are at least gone for now.
"During my comeback stage, it's important that I don't spread myself around the court emotionally like I used to," said Shriver after the victory that put her in today's round of 16 play against sixth seed Katerina Maleeva. "I needed a rigid plan. But in the next six months, I'll gamble more and show more flair."
That was good news for the many tennis fans who love to watch Shriver's spontaneity on the court.
Off the court, Shriver is still the same fountain of information on anything anybody wants to talk about and she still has some good one-liners.
"I thought after winning three gold medals in Cuba [Pan American Games], my Kraft General Foods points would rise, but they didn't," said Shriver. "That's how I know I wasn't in a tournament setting."
Shriver, ranked 30th in the world, said her next goals are to reach the semifinals of a tournament, make the top 20 in the world and get a win over a top 10 player.
"I'm very comfortable with where my comeback is now," said Shriver. "But I can't ease up at all, cut any corners or cheat on conditioning. I thought I could at one time but I'm not that good."
Shriver said she believes her right shoulder could hold out for her to play "another three or four years if I'm careful."