Live Sports Commentary 06.06.15: French Open and Football

Champions League 1

01:10 – And with that, I shall depart for the day. Thanks to anyone who has read any of this. New Zealand and the Netherlands, the other two teams from the Women’s World Cup Group A, will kick off in just under an hour, at 02:00 BST. And tomorrow will see the 2015 French Open men’s final, between Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. They will emerge on Court Philippe Chatrier at 14:00 BST.

00:54 – And there is the full time whistle. Canada open their World Cup with a win.

00:52 – And Sinclair scores! There’s not much pace on her penalty, but it is perfectly placed, just touching the post as it nestles into the bottom right corner of the goal. Canada 1-0 China

00:51 – Penalty for Canada in the first minute of stoppage time! Kaylyn Kyle makes a run across Zhao Rong, who raises her arm in an attempt to shield the ball from the Canadian attacker. Kyle goes down, and the referee points to the spot. Perhaps a little harsh – there wasn’t a lot of contact, and there was certainly no intent from Zhao Rong to elbow Kyle – but she did step across her without looking to play the ball.

00:43 – Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair – who has made a staggering 222 international appearances, scoring 153 goals – has one of the best chances of the half, as she finds space in China’s penalty area. But she passes meekly into the hands of the goalkeeper. Less than ten minutes left.

00:37 – Still 0-0 in the opening match of the tournament, with both teams keeping it tight at the back but guilty of being sometimes sloppy in possession.

The stadium announcer has just announced the attendance at Commonwealth Stadium, and it is 53,058 – a record in Canada for a national football match, men or women.

00:29 – If you want to back a dark horse, Switzerland sound like a good bet. They impressed in World Cup qualifying, emerging undefeated from a decent group including Denmark and Iceland; but more exciting than that, they scored 53 goals and conceded only 1, a better record than all European qualifiers except Germany.

Ramona Bachmann, who I fondly recall watching when she played for Umeå IK at the start of her career, is an exceptional forward in the mould of a Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi: a wide player full of tricks who has emerged as a top goalscorer. She has scored 33 goals in 61 games for Switzerland. Her compatriot Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, also 24 years old, has 35 in 69.

Switzerland should at least reach the knockout stage, competing in a group which features Japan, Cameroon, and Ecuador.

00:16 – Who are the players to watch this tournament? Five were nominated for the BBC World Service’s inaugural Women’s Footballer of the Year award: Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala, Brazil’s Marta, Germany’s Nadine Kessler, Spain’s Veronica Boquete, and Scotland’s Kim Little. Oshoala, who plays club football for Liverpool, was announced as the winner of the award a couple of weeks ago. Scotland aren’t involved; and Kessler – the winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award last year – is out of the competition owing to injury. But Marta – a five time FIFA World Player of the Year winner – Boquete and Oshoala will be present and ready to compete.

00:03 – We are ready for the second half. Canada will be looking to capitalise on the 68% possession they achieved across the first 45-minutes; but China challenged well after a slow start, and they may look to embark on more attacks in search of a goal.

23:48 – Half time at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, which has a capacity of 56,302 and looks full.

23:45 – Canada, ranked eighth according to the FIFA rankings, will be hopeful of topping their group, which also comprises the Netherlands and New Zealand. Back in 2011 they qualified for the finals but finished bottom of a tough group including Germany, France, and Nigeria, losing all three of their games including a 0-4 defeat against France.

23:41 – It is still 0-0 between Canada and China as we draw towards half-time. Both sides have hit the woodwork, and forced a number of last-gasp penalty-area blocks.

23:38 – Six stadiums in Canada will host matches, those in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton. Artificial playing surfaces will feature at all of the grounds, which has caused considerable consternation in the run-up to the tournament: a group of players filed a complaint of gender discrimination with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario last year, before withdrawing it in January. Players have argued that artificial turf increases the risk of injury, and dampens the quality of the game.

23:30 – The twenty-four teams will be split into six groups of four. They will play each team in their group once; and the six group winners, six group runners-up, and best four third-placed teams will qualify for the knockout stage. We will then have a round of sixteen, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and a final (plus a match for the losing semi-finalists for third place).

23:20 – Elsewhere the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway in Canada. The tournament’s opening game, between the host nation and China, is twenty minutes old and currently 0-0.

The tournament this year features an expanded twenty-four national teams, up from the sixteen who competed in Germany in 2011. Germany, winners in 2003 and 2007, and the United States, winners in 1991 and 1999, will be the favourites, along with reigning champions Japan, and France and Sweden. With the growth in numbers, eight sides are making their World Cup debuts: the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast.

23:05 – For Barcelona, beyond the murmurs of discontent prior to Christmas, in his first season as manager of the club Luis Enrique has subtly transformed their style of play: they now press higher up the pitch, and are much more dynamic on the counter attack.

With Pedro agreeing to a new contract which will keep him at the club until 2019, they are set in the attacking positions; and with Iniesta, Busquets, Rakitic, and Rafinha, they have plenty of quality in the midfield. Oliver Torres, Ilkay Gundogan, and Youri Tielemans have been mooted if they are looking to improve their options. But their most pressing need may be at right back, with Dani Alves’ future uncertain. Sevilla’s Aleix Vidal has been strongly tipped today.

22:39 – Juventus can be well pleased with their season all the same. They competed admirably in what ought to be remembered as a great Champions League final. The first Italian team to reach the final since that Inter Milan side of 2010, they’ve already begun strengthening ahead of the next campaign, signing the rapid and creative 21-year-old forward Paulo Dybala from Palermo for €32 million.

22:21 – Thus Barcelona complete the second major treble in the history of the club: a sequence of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and Champions League which they first accomplished in 2009.

Juventus are still to achieve such a treble: in Italy only their rivals Inter Milan have managed the feat, which came under Jose Mourinho in 2010.

22:06 – While the rest of the Barcelona team celebrate, Gerard Pique is busy with a pair of scissors cutting down the nets. He drapes himself in his prize and wanders to join the fun.

21:59 – Xavi has the match ball tucked under his shirt as he receives the Champions League trophy, which he raises before passing it round to his teammates. We have blue and red confetti.

21:56 – And now for the victors.

21:53 – Juventus ascend a small platform to collect their runners-up medals from Michel Platini.

21:49 – Barcelona deserved their victory over the course of the match: beyond seeing more of the ball, they were more incisive in the attack, and crucially broke forward with more players. But at 1-1 it seemed that Juventus were getting on top, and at that point the game could have gone either way.

21:45 – Pirlo, now 36 years old, looks close to tears as Barcelona celebrate.

21:43 – The match doesn’t restart: it is all over, and Barcelona are the champions of Europe.

21:42 – Juventus loft a long free kick into the Barcelona area, but it comes back out and it is Neymar, Messi, and Pedro against two defenders. Neymar stumbles on the ball and it looks like the chance might have gone; but Pedro finds him again and Neymar finishes the move and the match. Juventus 1-3 Barcelona

21:40 – Suarez, who strained his leg a few minutes ago, slowly makes way for Pedro. We are now beyond the allotted added time.

21:38 – After a shot from Tevez ends in Ter Stegen’s arms, Barcelona break and win a corner. Two minutes left.

21:35 – Five minutes of added time announced. Jeremy Mathieu replaces the impressive Rakitic.

21:33 – Juventus make their two final substitutions, Llorente for Morata and then soon afterwards, Kingsley Coman for Evra. We are into the last couple of minutes of normal time.

21:29 – Rakitic’s clever dinked pass finds Pique in the area, but he fires wildly over on the volley.

21:26 – Ter Stegen thinks about coming for a corner, but as he retreats Pogba heads over. Meanwhile Xavi is on for Barcelona, in place of Iniesta, who had to work to make the starting lineup after picking up a calf strain last Saturday in the Copa del Rey. And Pereyra comes on for Vidal for Juventus.

21:23 – Barcelona again have men over on the attack, but Jordi Alba slips in the penalty area. Messi subsequently misses the target from a free-kick.

21:21 – Ter Stegen punches a corner into the back of his own player, but fortunately for him the ball ricochets up and over the bar.

21:18 – Neymar thinks he has scored with a header, but it is ruled out for handball. That’s a hugely controversial decision: Neymar didn’t get a good contact on his header, and the ball did strike his arm on the way to the goal, but it wasn’t deliberate.

21:15 – While Suarez will be too focused to care, he was much sharper than Patrice Evra there to get on the end of Buffon’s stop. At the end of 2011, Suarez received an eight-match ban for racially abusing Evra in a game between Liverpool and Manchester United.

21:13 – Pogba issues a half-hearted penalty appeal after tangling with Dani Alves – but the ball is soon up the other end of the pitch. Messi skips a challenge and shoots, and Buffon’s parry allows Suarez to put Barcelona back into the lead. Juventus 1-2 Barcelona

21:12 – Patrice Evra loops a cross to the back post, which Vidal can’t quite reach.

21:09 – Iniesta pivots and almost finds Suarez with a through ball. And moments later, Pogba shoots straight at Ter Stegen through a crowd of players on the edge of the box.

21:05 – The game has been played at a high tempo, with both sides pressing effectively up the pitch. Now Pirlo fires a pass towards Pogba, who can’t quite take it in his stride, and the move eventually breaks down for Juventus; before Barcelona work through the midfield and threaten through Messi and Suarez. Gerard Pique is up there too, but they can’t find a path to goal.

20:59 – A crossfield ball fails to reach Neymar, and Marchisio nips in before playing an excellent backheel pass into the path of the overlapping Lichtsteiner. He finds Tevez in the box, who turns and shoots; Ter Stegen parries, but Morata is on hand to equalise for Juventus. Juventus 1-1 Barcelona

20:53 – Andrea Pirlo’s corner is cleared, and Barcelona win a header in the midfield to break with five players against three. Rakitic plays in Suarez, who thinks he sees a gap at the near post – but Buffon reads it and pushes his shot behind.

20:50 – The second half has started, with no changes for either side.

20:49 – If they’re looking towards their bench hoping to change things, Roberto Pereyra and Fernando Llorente seem Juventus’ most likely ports of call. Pereyra could replace Vidal at the head of the midfield; with Llorente another option up front, although Alvaro Morata has pressed well in the attack so far.

20:44 – Barcelona had 66% of the possession in that half; they attempted and completed more than double the passes; and had four attempts on target to Juventus’ one. Juventus committed fifteen fouls compared to Barcelona’s four.

20:39 – Barcelona clearly the better side in the first half, and at times it looked like their three-man midfield and overlapping full-backs would keep the ball all game and push on to overwhelm the Juventus defence. The movement of Barcelona’s three forwards has been excellent as always. But when they manage to put a few passes together, Juventus are able to build the play through their narrow midfield, and they have had a few half-chances. Pogba, Morata, and Tevez have been their main attacking outlets.

20:33 – And that is half time. Barcelona lead by the single goal.

20:29 – Pogba earns the second yellow card of the game with one of a series of fouls on Messi.

20:27 – A teasing run from Suarez culminates in a shot that edges narrowly wide. Then Messi fires straight at Buffon, who has to parry wide for a Barcelona corner – which comes to naught.

20:23 – Juventus opt for a short corner, and when the ball is finally lofted into the box it goes straight into the hands of Ter Stegen. But he rolls it out quickly with the Barcelona defence still under pressure, Juventus snatch it back, and Pogba goes down on the edge of the area under a challenge from Jordi Alba. The referee waves play on, and that looks a fair decision – both men got a little of the ball.

20:18 – Barcelona have had 67% possession, but Juventus have come back into the game a little. They have potential on the break; and both sides seem inclined to overplay at the back.

20:13 – Claudio Marchisio fires over from twenty-five yards, although the whistle had already gone for a Barcelona free-kick.

20:11 – Barcelona fumble about with the ball on the edge of their area, and it falls to Alvaro Morato, who curls a left-footed shot wide.

20:07 – Paul Pogba attempts a low cross having surged to the edge of the Barcelona area, but Mascherona cuts it out before it can reach Carlos Tevez.

20:04 – Arturo Vidal has already picked up the game’s first yellow card thanks to a foul on Sergio Busquets, but he continues to nibble at the legs of his opponents.

20:01 – Barcelona are keeping all of the ball, and they are making all of the play. Lionel Messi almost finds Neymar with a curling pass that goes agonisingly wide; then Luis Suarez cuts the ball back to Dani Alves, who forces an excellent stop from Gianluigi Buffon.

19:52 – Barcelona make a slightly shaky start, with Javier Mascherano giving away an early corner; but in just the fourth minute they take the lead. A diagonal ball is driven towards Jordi Alba down the left flank, and he finds Neymar, who slips the ball into the penalty area for Andres Iniesta. Iniesta passes across the face of goal and Ivan Rakitic places the ball with his left foot into the gaping net. Juventus 0-1 Barcelona

19:47 – The 2015 UEFA Champions League Final is underway.

19:44 – Both teams are close to full strength; with the only big miss being Juventus’ centre-back Giorgio Chiellini, who has failed to recover from a calf strain picked up in training on Wednesday.

19:38 – Tonight will be Xavi’s last game for Barcelona, having made 766 appearances since his progression from Barcelona B in 1998. In that time he has helped them to eight La Ligas, three Copa del Reys, and three Champions Leagues – most of which were achieved with him as club captain. He will move to Qatari side Al-Sadd in the summer.

Xavi currently shares the Champions League appearance record with Iker Casillas, both players featuring in 150 games in the competition. He may go one better tonight; but he starts on the bench.

19:31 – The 2015 French Open men’s doubles final is over, and the team of Dodig and Melo have beaten the Bryan brothers. The match finished 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 in their favour. The teams are on court now giving the typical speeches of acceptance and resignation.

19:23 – Juventus last won the Champions League in 1996, beating Ajax 4-2 on penalties after the game finished 1-1. They reached the final in 1997, 1998, and 2003, but lost on each occasion, to Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, and on penalties to A.C. Milan. Finishing runners-up five times in their history, they share that record with Benfica and Bayern Munich.

Barcelona have had more success recently, winning the competition three times in the last nine years, in 2006, 2009, and 2011. Each time they triumphed over English sides: first Arsenal, then twice against Manchester United.

19:05 – Back at Roland Garros, the men’s doubles final is into the third set. First seeds Bob and Mike Bryan are facing third seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, and it’s a set apiece and all square at 3-3 in the third.

18:48 – The teamsheets for the Champions League final are wherever they’re supposed to be. They are in.

Juventus (Diamond 4-4-2): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Bonucci, Evra; Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, Vidal; Tevez, Morata

Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

18:36 – Looking slightly ahead, in little over an hour Juventus will meet Barcelona in the final of the UEFA Champions League. That match will get underway inside the Olympiastadion in Berlin from 19:45 BST.

Both sides are looking to complete trebles. Juventus secured the Serie A title with weeks to spare, ultimately finishing seventeen points ahead of their nearest rivals Roma; and on 20 May they beat Lazio in the final of the Coppa Italia, 2-1 after extra time. Barcelona edged Real Madrid in La Liga, winning the title in their penultimate game of the season with a 0-1 victory away to Atletico Madrid; and just last Saturday triumphed 3-1 over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey.

18:10 – Serena will take home, or to the shops, or to the global online marketplace, or wherever she chooses to take it, €1.8 million for winning the French Open: the same sum that is available to Novak Djokovic or Stan Wawrinka in the men’s final tomorrow. Safarova receives half that, €900,000, for finishing runner-up.

Serena will turn 34 at the end of September. Given the shape she is in, Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of twenty-two Grand Slams – and even Margaret Court’s earlier record of twenty-four – remains well within her grasp.

17:50 – Sick or not, Williams seems capable of winning tennis matches whenever she chooses. There is nobody around who can really challenge her: Sharapova cowers before her, and hasn’t beaten her in over ten years, their head-to-head record 17-2 in Williams’ favour; Petra Kvitova still struggles psychologically, whether it comes to motivation or remaining strong in the big points; and Victoria Azarenka, perhaps the best bet – the only one willing to face Williams’ aggression head on – is still making her way back after a ruined 2014 owing to a foot injury.

It is hard to see who else at this moment possesses the combination of athleticism and power to truly compete. Safarova showed today she has the hitting ability; perhaps on the grass Sabine Lisicki and Simone Halep have a chance; and Garbine Muguruza at only twenty-one is an exciting prospect.

17:30 – There is a great deal to admire about Williams: most of all her ability on the court; but also at the French Open the degree to which she has worked to win over a once hostile audience, learning to speak the language, and spending significant time at her apartment in Paris. In the middle years of the last decade, up against Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, Serena’s relationship with the French crowd was often strained.

Still it seems clear that the extent of her flu was severely overplayed. She didn’t seem to struggle with it at all during the match today – despite coughing away at one point during her practise session earlier this morning. If it was oversold rather than a miraculous recovery, it is difficult to discern why: to upset her opponent; to avoid certain obligations; to garner additional attention or influence the narrative of her success; or perhaps it was simply an illustration of her own self-consciousness, and her concern over the points still to play. Whatever, the absurd drama and all of the overzealous shouting today detract somewhat from her victory.

17:12 – Of course, the build to the women’s final was defined by Serena’s purported illness. Suggesting she had been struggling with the flu from the third round of the tournament, its clearest visible manifestation came during her semi-final match against Timea Bacsinszky. Groaning and suffering a spluttering cough, draped with an ice towel between games, Serena was second-best until the middle of the second set, upon which she took ten games in a row to win through 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

Foregoing her press commitments on Thursday evening and doing no practise on Friday, she stated ‘At this point I just want to get better. It’s hard to think about the match or winning another Grand Slam title now.’

16:53 – Apparently this was Safarova’s 40th appearance at a Grand Slam. Only Marion Bartoli and Jana Novotna have won their first Grand Slam titles after more appearances: Bartoli winning Wimbledon 2013 at her 47th Grand Slam; Novotna Wimbledon 1998 at her 45th.

16:44 – This is Serena’s third French Open title, with her first coming in 2002 and her second a couple of years ago in 2013. On those occasions she beat her sister Venus, and Maria Sharapova. In fact, the French Open in 2002 marked only her second Grand Slam, following the US Open almost three years earlier in 1999. Over the rest of 2002, she won at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows; before completing the set with the Australian Open come January.

16:36 – Lucie Safarova and Serena Williams take turns on the microphone to thank their opponents, the French crowd, and their families, coaches, and support teams.

16:30 – Martina Navratilova is out to present the winner and runner-up with their trophies. Serena grins widely and holds hers high above her head before ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ begins to play.

16:25 – That’s Serena’s twentieth Grand Slam, placing her behind only Steffi Graf – who has twenty-two – in the Open Era. Safarova awaits her first Grand Slam. She at least gets to go tomorrow in the final of the women’s doubles, where she partners Bethanie Mattek-Sands against Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.

16:16 – Safarova’s shots have lost their bite: she has hit only 1 winner in this set compared to 10 in the second. Serena meanwhile, for all of her yelling, has been exceptionally consistent from the back of the court. And Safarova can do nothing now as Serena secures a slightly sordid victory. Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 Safarova

16:12 – A big point at 30-30 on Williams’ serve, and Safarova has the opportunity for a winner – but her forehand return drifts marginally wide. Then she hits a backhand low into the net. Serena is a game away. Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 5-2 Safarova*

16:06 – At the end of the last game, Serena received an arguably overdue warning for verbal obscenity. She continues to shout at the start of this game. Though Safarova has the advantage at 40-30, Serena pulls her back, and an unforced error at deuce leads to Serena breaking again. *Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 4-2 Safarova

16:02 – A couple of aces and another hold to love for Serena. Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 3-2 Safarova*

15:59 – Always adept at making herself not only the centre of attention, but the centre of power on court, Serena is screaming between every point and managing to turn the tide. Safarova double faults to allow Serena back into this match. *Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 2-2 Safarova

15:55 – Two quick service holds to love. Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 1-2 Safarova*

15:51 – The quality of Safarova’s returning during that second set is shown by this statistic: across the second set, Serena won only 3 out of 15 points, 20%, on her second serve. She also hit 25 unforced errors to Safarova’s 8. And it remains like this as Safarova breaks in the opening game of the third set. Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 0-1 Safarova*

15:45 – And at the first time of asking, Safarova has it. We will go into a third and final set – with Safarova’s hitting at the moment too much for Serena to handle. *Williams 6-3, 6-7 (2-7) Safarova

15:43 – Fighting and running so hard to stay in some of these points, Safarova keeps winning through and has four chances to take the set. Williams 6-3, 6-6 (2-6) Safarova*

15:41 – The longest rally of the match at sixteen shots sees Serena emerge with the point. But it is Safarova who is a break up in the tie-break. Williams 6-3, 6-6 (1-3) Safarova*

15:38 – Remarkable hitting from Safarova – powerful, deep, and daring to go for the angles – sees her come back from 30-15 to break and send the set into a tie-break. Williams 6-3, 6-6 Safarova*

15:33 – On Serena’s service, Safarova hits the shot of the game, stroking a forehand cross-court past her competitor for 30-15. But after an error and an ace, Serena keeps her serve. Safarova opens her service game with an ace; however a couple of unforced errors give Serena a break point which her forehand instantly secures. Now she gets to serve for the set. *Williams 6-3, 6-5 Safarova

15:25 – Safarova holds firm, and Serena will now serve to stay in the set. *Williams 6-3, 4-5 Safarova

15:21 – After holding her own service, a string of errors culminating in another double fault at break point on Serena’s give Safarova her second break of the set. We are back on serve. Williams 6-3, 4-4 Safarova*

15:13 – And yet Safarova responds. She stays in the game with a sharp forehand winner down the line for 40-30; then receives some considerable help as Serena makes an unforced error, and twice double faults to hand Safarova the game. That’s one break back. Williams 6-3, 4-2 Safarova*

15:08 – Still Safarova can’t get near the Williams serve. And then at 15-30 on Safarova’s, things look ominous. Safarova takes the next point; but an error on her backhand, and a winner on Serena’s, and it is another break for the two-time French Open champion. Serena has what seems certain to prove an unassailable lead. *Williams 6-3, 4-1 Safarova

15:00 – Safarova keeps herself in this match with a hold of service. *Williams 6-3, 2-1 Safarova

14:56 – After three deuces, and with Safarova passing up her own opportunity to hold, Serena powers two backhands beyond her opponent to break in the first game of the second set. She consolidates immediately, holding her serve to love. Williams 6-3, 2-0 Safarova*

14:47 – Which Serena duly achieves, managing her fourth ace of the set along the way. She has hit 13 winners to Safarova’s 5; and while she has made twice as many unforced errors, the pace of her groundstrokes is making it hard for Safarova to cope. Williams 6-3 Safarova*

14:43 – The average rally so far amounts to just 2.9 shots: we are tearing through this first set, but although Serena earns a set point against Safarova’s serve, Safarova saves the moment thanks to her forehand. She holds to make Serena serve it out. *Williams 5-3 Safarova

14:38 – Three holds of serve put Serena a game away from the first set. Williams 5-2 Safarova*

14:26 – But now Serena roars into action and smashes a backhand past Safarova for 0-30. Safarova responds with a winner of her own, but she’s forced into an error to give Serena her first two break points. She only needs one, and breaks with a crunching forehand. *Williams 3-1 Safarova

14:23 – Safarova looks fairly nerve-free, and Serena’s purported flu doesn’t seem to be bothering her so much, as the two women commence the French Open final with three comfortable holds of serve. Serena closes out her two opening service games with aces. Williams 2-1 Safarova*

14:14 – The two women are out on Court Philippe Chatrier, and they have completed their warm-ups. The 2015 French Open women’s final is set to start, with Serena Williams on serve. (* Indicates next to serve).

14:13 – Williams and Safarova have met eight times before today, never on red clay, with Williams winning all eight encounters. In the bottom section of the draw, Safarova began her French Open campaign with a hard-fought victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, triumphing across two-tie breaks which she won 8-6, 11-9. She progressed relatively comfortably through the second and third rounds against Kurumi Nara and Sabine Lisicki, before dispatching defending champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round in straight sets. Achieving the same in her quarter-final against Garbine Muguruza and semi-final against Ana Ivanovic, Safarova is yet to lose a set this tournament.

Williams meanwhile has had a tougher time of it, taking her first round match against Andrea Hlavackova in two sets, but then having to come from a set down against Anna-Lena Friedsam, Victoria Azarenka, and Sloane Stephens. She defeated Sara Errani with ease in the quarter-finals, but in the semi-final – ostensibly plagued with the flu – she again had to work from behind to overcome Timea Bacsinszky. Serena has now come from a set down to win 33 Grand Slam matches, more than any other currently competitive player.

14:08 – Already today, the continuation of yesterday’s French Open men’s semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray saw the Serb emerge victorious. While Murray prevailed in the remainder of the fourth set to tie the match, Djokovic stormed through the final set 6-1. Read up on the events of that match here. Djokovic will go on to play Stan Wawrinka in the men’s final tomorrow.

14:05 – Welcome to today’s live sports commentary, which will focus on the French Open women’s final between Serena Williams and Lucie Safarova; before turning later in the day to the football, and the Champions League final pitting Juventus against Barcelona in Berlin, with the first match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada also on the horizon.

Serena 1

French Open Women 1

French Open 2