Venus should meet Petrova

Updated: March 31, 2004, 1:43 AM ET
By Mary Joe Fernandez | Special to ESPN.com

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- A lot of the top players have struggled with injuries the past couple of years. We've already seen Amelie Mauresmo and Kim Clijsters injured.

It definitely gives opportunities to the younger players coming up, ranked 20 through 40, to have a breakthrough in a big tournament like this one.

Even if they're not defeating the top players, it's still confidence building. Sure, if you beat a top player it gives you more confidence, but a win's a win. No one remembers who you defeated just that you got to the semis or finals of a tournament.

Here's a look at the remaining quarterfinals:

Nadia Petrova (8), Russia, vs. Nathalie Dechy (21), France
Petrova won convincingly in the round of 16 and Dechy is a solid baseliner. Petrova, who will be in the top 10 for the first time after this event, will have a win in this quarterfinal.
Pick: Petrova

Venus Williams (2), United States, vs. Elena Dementieva (5), Russia
Venus won her easiest match so far in the third round against Francesca Schiavone. Dementieva does have a victory against Venus, but that was a while ago at Fed Cup.

They were the gold and silver medallists at the Sydney Olympics, but they haven't played in a couple of years. Venus is starting to pick her game up, so look for her to get through.
Pick: Venus

Professional tennis player Mary Joe Fernandez serves as an analyst on women's tennis events for ESPN and ESPN2. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Miami, Fernandez has enjoyed a successful career on the WTA Tour since 1985.

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