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View From Down Under: Federer tipped to open Hopman Cup with a win to start 20th pro year

World No. 2 Roger Federer has arrived in Australia as he embarks on a milestone 20th year on the professional tennis tour.

While his eyes may be focused on defending his Australian Open title later this month, first the Swiss star will look for some redemption in the Hopman Cup mixed teams tournament in Perth.

Federer was bundled out of last year’s Hopman Cup by German teenager Alexander Zverev in three sets before going on to complete a landmark year.

The 36-year-old father of four won the Australian Open in his first official tournament back after six months out rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee before claiming an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon singles crown for a 19th Grand Slam.

Federer won a tour-topping seven titles in 2017, losing just five matches along the way.

He will again partner with Belinda Bencic at the Hopman Cup, his only warm-up before the Australian Open starting January 15.

He is the clear favorite to win his first match of 2018 on Saturday, with William Hill paying just $1.07 (-1429) for an opening win over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, with $7.50 (+650) for a loss.

Zverev has also returned for the Hopman Cup, where he’s on $1.67 (-149) to down David Goffin in their opener, with $2.10 (+110) for a loss.

Australia’s men’s hope Thanasi Kokkinakis is on identical odds for his opener against Vasek Pospisil.

In the women’s section, Daria Gavrilova faces a tough test in her opening encounter when she meets 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard.

Gavrilova is the $1.33 (-303) to beat the Canadian, with $3.20 (+220) for a loss.

Looking ahead to the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal is the early favorite at $3.80 (+280), slightly edging Federer on $4 (+300) and Zverev on $5 (+400). Nick Kyrgios is the top Australian choice at $17 (+1600).

Serena Williams is tipped to retain her women’s title at $5 (+400), with Garbine Muguruza on $7 (+600) and the returning Maria Sharapova at $10 (+900).

With the fourth Ashes test likely to be decided Thursday, cricket fans will look for a punt on the Big Bash League.

The Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Renegades meet Friday to decide the possible top spot on the ladder.

The defending champion Scorchers share the BBL lead with the Renegades and Brisbane Heat on four points, although Brisbane has played an extra game.

The Renegades are on $1.67 (-149) to win at home and take the sole lead, with $2.20 (+120) for the Scorchers.

The Adelaide Strikers have played just one game and can stay among the leaders with a victory over the winless Sydney Sixers.

The Strikers are paying $2 (+100) for a win in Sydney on Thursday night, with $1.85 (-118) for the Sixers.

Sydney FC is tipped to extend its comfortable A-League soccer lead hosting the Perth Glory on Saturday.

Sydney holds a five-point lead atop the table and is on $1.40 (-250) to claim an 11th victory from 13 games, with $7.50 (+650) for the Glory and $4.75 (+375) for a draw.

The second-place Newcastle Jets are expected to have their lead narrowed by the third-place Melbourne Victory.

The Victory are paying $2.05 (+105) for the home win, with $3.40 (+240) for a loss and $3.60 (+260) for a draw.