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View from Down Under: Aussies Love the European Summer!

This weekend in Australia is the last before we officially tick over into winter next Thursday. It’s a sad thought, so sad, that many of us will be migrating north for the winter, no, not to Queensland, just a little further to the Northern Hemisphere.

While many holidaymakers get ready to head to the airport, a destination where many will be heading – Europe – is ready to host several major sporting events this weekend.

The two that will catch the bulk of the attention of Australians are the time-honoured FA Cup final at London’s Wembley Stadium, and the second tennis Grand Slam of the year, the French Open at Roland Garros.

In the French capital, the favorite in the men’s draw is – surprise, surprise – the man who’s won it nine times already, and the beaten finalist in our own Grand Slam, Mr. Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard is not only favorite with the Australian bookies, but an odds-on one at $1.95 (-105). So dominant is the 'King of Clay' in betting that only one other player is in single figures, Novak Djokovic at $4.50 (+350).

The Aussie who’s given the best hope of causing a major boilover is Nick Kyrgios at $67. The Canberra native does have a decent record on clay, which includes an appearance in the final of the 2015 Estoril Open in Portugal, when he came up short against France’s Richard Gasquet.

In the women’s draw, Romania’s Simona Halep is $4.33 (+333) to go one better than her runner-up effort in 2014. Australia’s Darren Cahill is her coach, so as usual, we'll claim her as our own!

Getting up in the early hours of the morning to watch the FA Cup final has been a ritual for Australian sports fans for many years.

Chelsea - who won the Premier League earlier this week – comes up against Arsenal, who ended the season in fifth place on the table, the lowest position that Arsene Wenger’s side has found itself in since the coach arrived at the club in 1996.

One of the other big English clubs, Liverpool, played in front of 70,000 fans in Sydney on Wednesday showing the passion for the round ball game in Australia.

As winter sets in, ever-popular sports such as Aussie Rules football and Rugby League fly toward the halfway points of their seasons.

In the AFL (Aussie Rules), the pick of this weekend’s matches is the annual ‘Dreamtime at the G’ match, which recognizes the huge contribution that Aboriginal Australians have made to our native game.

Upwards of 90,000 people are expected to fill the MCG on Saturday night. The bookies are having some real trouble splitting the two sides, the Tigers at $1.84 (-119) and the Bombers at $1.97 (-103), as both clubs struggle for consistency.

In the NRL, the first of the three-match State of Origin series between New South Wales and Queensland takes place next Wednesday.

That means eight clubs have the bye this weekend, with only four games taking place. Reigning premiers Cronulla are favorites in their match against the Canterbury Bulldogs, but the in-form Sydney Roosters, minus five of their best players who are involved in Origin, are outsiders against Canberra.

Of course, there’ll be plenty of Super Rugby action, and the pick of it in terms of the five Australian teams comes when the Brumbies – who became the first Aussie side to win in South Africa this season last weekend – take on Argentinian franchise the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

At the track, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on the Group 1 Darley Kingsford Smith Cup at Eagle Farm racecourse in Brisbane, where the favorite is currently Black Heart Bart, who has had three times as much money placed on him as any other runner.