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Wednesday multi tips for 2017 Australian Open quarterfinals

SOMETHING special is happening in the men’s draw of the 2017 Australian Open.

With four rounds gone, both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – the combatants in four of the last six AO finals – are out.

That leaves 36-year-old Roger Federer, back from six months out of the game, as the overwhelming fan favourite after his superb win over Kei Nishikori.

On the other half of the draw lurks Rafael Nadal, who hasn’t reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam in two injury-riddled years.

The scene is set for a fairytale final and the revival of what might just be the greatest head-to-head rivalry in all of sport.

Online bookmaker William Hill – the official wagering partner of the Australian Open – is paying $5 special odds for Federer and Nadal to meet in the decider.

“This is the final that the world wants to see now,” said William Hill spokesman James Burroughs.

“William Hill would love the two icons of tennis to wide back the clock once last time and recreate one of the many epic duels they have had over the years.”

First, they must seal a spot in the last four.

That’s no easy task for Nadal, who faces third seed Milos Raonic in Wednesday’s headline act.

Whomever triumphs in that clash will take on the winner of Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin.

Over in the women’s draw, title favourite Karolina Pliskova meets Mirjana Lucic-Baroni – the rejuvenated 34-year-old who hasn’t reached this stage of a major since Wimbledon 1999.

Former Aussie Johanna Konta will have to stun Serena Williams in order to match her run to the semis last year.

That’s four big matches and four hot tips for our Wednesday Australian Open multi bet, with top odds from WilliamHill.com.au.

Serena Williams vs. Johanna Konta

With defending champ Angelique Kerber dumped out in the fourth round, Serena must fancy her chances of claiming a seventh Australian Open singles crown.

The mid-afternoon sun wreaked havoc with her serve on Sunday, but she did enough to down the dangerous Barbora Strycova in straight sets.

There is nothing to suggest Serena will deliver anything short of her best against the UK’s top seed.

Konta has impressed again at Melbourne Park, where only the eventual champion, Kerber, stood between her and a shock final appearance in 2016.

She dropped only four games to former world number one Caroline Wozniaki in the third round and had no issues with the heavy hitting of Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth.

While the Sydney-born star on the rise has never met Serena in competitive play, she does have a positive record against the Williams family.

Konta beat Venus twice in 2016, including a stunning straight-sets win in the opening round of this very tournament.

Is that a good omen for Wednesday’s clash?

We like Johanna, and we expect her to put up a damn good fight, but our tip is Serena.

Serena Williams – $1.53

Karolina Pliskova vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni

This year’s Brisbane International winner looked to be cruising until she met Jelena Ostapenko in the third round.

That match went deep into overtime, with Pliskova triumphing 10-8 in a rollercoaster third set.

She had fewer problems against Daria Gavrilova in the round of 16, overpowering the Aussie hope to win 6-3, 6-3.

The Czech has won three of nine sets to love at Australian Open 2017, but recent history suggests she probably won’t improve on that record in the quarters.

Lucic-Baroni has been one of the stories of the tournament, fighting from a position of complete obscurity to achieve her best Grand Slam run for nearly two decades.

But she is no stranger to Pliskova, nor to beating her.

The Croatian veteran has managed that feat twice in five meetings, most recently at the 2015 Canadian Masters.

Pliskova came out on top when they met at Wuhan later that year, but only after three sets and two tiebreakers.

Lucic has already staged one massive upset in this tournament, knocking out third seed Agnieszka Radawanska in the second round.

The fairytale ends here as Pliskova aims to go one better than her runner-up finish at the 2016 US Open.

Karolina Pliskova – $1.20

Grigor Dimitrov vs. David Goffin

After a dominant win over Richard Gasquet, dark horse Dimitrov was on the ropes early against Denis Istomin – the man who beat Djokovic in round two.

But he rallied from a set down to oust the Uzbekistani wild card in four, dropping only three games in the closing two sets.

Dimitrov is an impressive ball-striker who possesses one of the most potent one-handed backhands in the game – perhaps second only to Mr Federer’s.

He has yet to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, but those in the know have pegged this as a breakout year for the 25-year-old Bulgarian.

Goffin is another highly ranked player with limited experience at the business end of the big ones.

This is only his second appearance in a major quarterfinal, having reached the same stage at Roland Garros last year.

The Belgian overcame a rocky start against Austria’s Dominic Thiem to win 5-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2 in filthy hot conditions during Monday’s afternoon session.

It was the other way round when he last met Dimitrov in tournament play.

Having won 6-0 in the first set of their fourth round clash at the 2014 US Open, Goffin picked up only eight more games to slink out in four sets.

He has never beaten Dimitrov, and we expect that form to hold up on Wednesday.

Grigor Dimitrov – $1.55

Milos Raonic vs. Rafael Nadal

This should be a belter.

The 2016 season was a coming of age for Raonic, who reached the Australian Open semis for the first time and went all the way to the big dance at Wimbledon.

With Djokovic and Murray out of commission, the powerful Canadian could hardly ask for a better chance to win a maiden major.

He has always possessed a devastating serve, but nowadays there is a much more rounded ground game to go with it.

Milos may need every ounce of that newfound skill set when he tackles a former AO champion on a mission.

Nadal looks as fit and ready for a fight as he has in years.

Although he was on the receiving end of some blistering spells from Gael Monfils on Monday night, Rafa never really looked like losing.

This is a different challenge altogether.

It was Raonic who came up trumps when these two faced off at Brisbane earlier this month, but Nadal has a dominant 6-2 winning record overall.

For the sake of the Fed-Rafa dream decider, we are leaning towards the Spaniard.

Rafael Nadal – $1.67

2017 Australian Open quarterfinal multi bet

Serena Williams – $1.53

Karolina Pliskova – $1.20

Grigor Dimitrov – $1.55

Rafa Nadal – $1.67

Payout = $4.75 at WilliamHill.com.au

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