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View From Down Under: Federer firms as favorite to defend Australian Open title

Roger Federer has firmed as favorite to claim a 20th Grand Slam title as his Australian Open defense enters the final stages this weekend.

The Swiss great is the sole remaining top-five player in the men’s main draw after world No. 1 Rafael Nadal retired hurt from his quarterfinal against Marin Cilic on Tuesday night.

Second-ranked Federer, who has five Australian Open titles under his belt already, takes on Czech veteran No. 19 Tomas Berdych on Wednesday night in what is expected to be a one-sided affair.

Federer has won the past eight meetings against Berdych dating back to 2013, including at the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Open.

At just $1.15 (-667) on the William Hill board, Federer is virtually unbackable to advance to the semifinals, with $5.50 (+450) for a loss.

South Korea’s Hyeon Chung shocked the Rod Laver Arena crowd on Monday with a masterful win over childhood hero Novak Djokovic and is the favorite to meet Federer in the semifinals.

Chung is the $1.27 (-370) favorite to defeat American tyro Tennys Sandgren in their quarterfinal Wednesday, with $3.75 (+275) for a loss.

Cilic’s chances of a second Grand Slam were given a boost by Nadal’s retirement and the 29-year-old is on $1.36 (-278) to beat Kyle Edmund on Thursday, with $3.10 (+210) on offer for the Briton to reach his first major title.

Federer is paying $1.67 (-149) to win his sixth Australian Open on Sunday, with $4 (+300) for Cilic, $9 for Chung (+800), $13 (+1200) for Edmund, $15 (+1400) for Berdych and $67 (+66000) for a Sandgren title.

In the women’s draw, second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki has emerged as close favorite for a maiden Grand Slam ahead of her semifinal against Elise Mertens on Thursday.

Wozniacki recovered from a second-set tiebreak loss to down Carla Suarez Navarro and is paying $1.40 (-250) to defeat Mertens with $2.90 (+190) for a loss.

In the quarterfinals, meanwhile, 2016 Open champion Angelique Kerber is the $1.57 (-175) favorite to beat 17th-seeded Madison Keys on Wednesday night, with $2.40 (+140) for the American.

Top-seeded Simona Halep is on just $1.80 (-125) to defeat sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova and $2 (+100) for a loss.

Wozniacki is the $3.20 (+220) favorite to take the title Sunday, with $3.70 (+270) for Kerber, $6 (+500) for Keys, $6.50 (+550) for Pliskova, $7 (+600) for Halep and $8 (+700) for Mertens.

Despite England already wrapping up the one-day international series, Australia is tipped to claim its first win of the series in the fourth match at Adelaide Oval.

The tourists shrugged off a demoralizing series loss in Ashes test series to clinch the ODI series with a 16-run victory in Sydney this week.

Australia is paying $1.80 (-125) make it 4-1 on Friday, with $2 (+100) for England to press home its advantage.

The Melbourne Renegades will look to join the Perth Scorchers and the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash league finals when they travel to Sydney to face the Thunder on Wednesday night.

The Renegades are six points off the lead with two games in hand and are paying $1.75 (-133) to take third place with a win against $2.08 (+108) for a loss.

In the A-League, Melbourne City can make up ground on the top two, paying $2.05 (+105) to beat the second-place Newcastle at home with $3.40 (+240) for the Jets.