Live Sports Commentary 07.06.15: French Open Final Etc.

Djokovic Wawrinka

19:25 – Following Canada’s last-gasp penalty last night, which gave the home nation a 1-0 victory over a resolute China side in the opening game of the Women’s World Cup, their Group A competitors New Zealand and the Netherlands took to the field at Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton. Making their debut at a World Cup finals, the Netherlands won the match 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Lieke Martens.

Group B is in motion, and Norway lead Thailand 4-0 with seventy minutes played. Twice tournament winners, Germany will be strong favourites for the group, and they face Ivory Coast in a couple of hours.

19:10 – As Stan Wawrinka, presumably showered, prepares to celebrate his French Open victory, men’s tennis fans can look ahead to the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, which will feature Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Gael Monfils; and the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club in London, which will showcase Wawrinka alongside Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov, Marin Cilic, and Milos Raonic. Both tournaments begin on 15 June. Wimbledon starts a couple of weeks later, from 29 June.

18:55 – Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa emerged triumphant in the men’s 5,000 metres; and his colleague Virginia Nyambura did the same in the women’s steeplechase at the head of a Kenyan 1-2-3. But the track today really belonged to the sprinters, with those exceptional performances from Jeneba Tarmoh, Dina Asher-Smith, Marvin Bracy, and Adam Gemili. Alas, Gemili collapsed after going under 10 seconds for the first time in the 100 metres, and a torn hamstring is the suspect.

18:40 – To roundup some of the Birmingham Grand Prix field event results from earlier today, Christina Schwanitz of Germany took first place in the women’s shot, putting a distance of 19.68; Poland’s Kamila Licwinko won in the women’s high jump with a height of 1.97; in one of the performances of the day, Kenya’s Julius Yego threw a world-leading 91.39 to win the men’s javelin; and Britain’s Greg Rutherford came into form in the long jump, coming first with a leap of 8.35.

18:15 – Both Wawrinka and Djokovic had similar first serve percentages (67%-65%), and in fact Wawrinka hit more double faults (3-0) and had a poorer win percentage on his second serve (50%-53%). But he won 76% of the points on his first serve compared to Djokovic’s 63%; and he managed 59 winners to Djokovic’s 30. He also won 70% of his points at the net, coming in on 33 occasions and winning 23 points

18:07 – Wawrinka, who turned 30 at the end of March, is the oldest winner of the French Open since Andres Gomez in 1990. Gomez was just over a month older then than Wawrinka is now.

17:58 – Beyond Ireland and England’s dismal 0-0 draw, on the international friendly front Sergio Aguero scored his first international hat-trick to help Argentina to a 5-0 victory over Bolivia, in a warm-up to the Copa America; Russia have just beaten Belarus 4-2; and Serbia won 4-1 against Azerbaijan.

France play Belgium at 20:00 BST; and Brazil meet Mexico an hour later.

17:50 – Djokovic, still emotional, thanks the crowd and his family and support team. Wawrinka does the same, remembering to mention all of the relevant officials. Djokovic, President of the Fédération Française de Tennis Jean Gachassin, Wawrinka, and Kuerten stand in line for photographs.

17:44 – Incidentally, the Swiss national anthem, the Swiss Palm, is currently under threat: a public competition and unofficial vote is underway in the country, with the aim of finding a replacement.

17:41 – And now Wawrinka claims his trophy, and the Swiss national anthem begins to play.

17:39 – Djokovic is given a long and intense and heartfelt round of applause from the crowd on Philippe Chatrier, which moves him close to tears.

17:36 – Gustavo Kuerten comes out to present the trophies, and ‘Guga’ receives a rapturous welcome. The Brazilian won here in 1997, 2000, and 2001.

17:35 – Wawrinka has his first French Open, and his second Grand Slam. He will move into the top four in the world rankings. Djokovic – despite managing his first French Open victory over Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals – is still without a French Open title. Many before this match were tipping him to sweep the Grand Slams this year.

17:30 – Wawrinka comes back out on court after a brief departure, and he and Djokovic embrace again: both players can be fiery, but they’ve been models of gentility pretty much throughout this final. It is time for the speeches.

17:26 – Stan Wawrinka is the 2015 French Open men’s champion.

17:25 – A couple of unforced errors from Wawrinka, but a backhand restores order, then Djokovic is made to miss. Match point, and Wawrinka serves: it is called out, and he asks the question, but the umpire confirms that it was just long. Then Djokovic comes in to the net and forces Wawrinka to miss. He crushes a forehand, and now has the chance to break. But Wawrinka takes the next two rallies, and blasts a backhand down the line to win the game, set, and match. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 4-6 Wawrinka

17:19 – Wawrinka is dictating this match, and at 30-30 hits a superb passing shot to win a break point. Djokovic takes it back to deuce; but then it’s the same point again as he comes to the net and can’t get anything on a Wawrinka backhand. Break point number two, and Wawrinka thumps a backhand down the line to break. He is one game from the French Open title. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 4-5 Wawrinka*

17:15 – Rounding off the day’s athletics in Birmingham, Dawn Harper-Nelson excelled in the women’s 100 metre hurdles with a season’s best of 12.58, ahead of Brianna Rollins and Tiffany Porter; and Sifan Hassan beat off her rival Abeba Aregawi in the women’s 1500 metres.

17:12 – Wawrinka is wayward first on a backhand down the line, then on two forehands. 0-40 and three break points. But Wawrinka constructs the next well and finishes it off with a volley, then powers a backhand. At 30-40 Wawrinka’s first serve is initially called out, but the call is changed and it’s a winner. Back at deuce, and Wawrinka forces the issue and secures a crucial hold. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 4-4 Wawrinka

17:06 – At 15-15 Wawrinka keeps going cross-court, and he wrong-foots Djokovic and hits the line to move ahead. Then he spanks an inside-out forehand from the half-court for 15-40. But Djokovic shows good awareness at the net to pull a point back; then flings himself into a backhand volley for deuce. He forces an error and hits a backhand to hang on. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 4-3 Wawrinka*

17:00 – A backhand volley to start the game, and more mistakes from Djokovic, and Wawrinka moves on. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 3-3 Wawrinka

16:56 – With Wawrinka hitting winners off both sides, an error on the forehand from Djokovic gives his opponent two break points. Wawrinka needs only one, and we are back on serve. Djokovic is looking tired: of course, where Wawrinka’s semi-final was done by Friday afternoon, Djokovic had to finish his semi against Andy Murray yesterday. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 3-2 Wawrinka*

16:52 – Now a loose game from Djokovic allows Wawrinka a painless hold. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 3-1 Wawrinka

A really impressive performance by Jeneba Tarmoh in the women’s 200 metres in Birmingham: with a time of 22.29, just a hundredth of a second outside her personal best, she was given the victory on the line ahead of Allyson Felix. Equally outstanding, Dina Asher-Smith came third, with a personal best of 22.30. That smashes her previous best of 22.61.

16:48 – After getting ahead, Wawrinka is angry at himself for missing a backhand which brings us to 30-30. Djokovic curls a forehand down the line for 40-30, and then Wawrinka slices long. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 3-0 Wawrinka*

16:43 – The game shifts. Starting with a smash, Wawrinka then misses his next two shots to put Djokovic ahead. Another error at the net and on the backhand and Djokovic has an early break. That was a lax game from Wawrinka after dominating for such a long stretch. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 2-0 Wawrinka

16:39 – Wawrinka briefly departs for the bathroom between sets, and Djokovic stretches before comfortably holding his service in the first game of the fourth. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 1-0 Wawrinka*

Wawrinka won 90% of the points on his first serve in the third, versus 56% for Djokovic. He hit 15 winners to Djokovic’s 7.

16:33 – An ace and a punching forehand volley on his way in to the net help Wawrinka to the game, which he wins to love. He has the lead in this match. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6 Wawrinka

16:30 – Pushed well wide on the backhand, Wawrinka goes round the net and hits the court to take a 0-30 lead. But he makes a few mistakes on the backhand as Djokovic recovers to hold. Wawrinka to serve for the third set. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-5 Wawrinka*

16:26 – Wawrinka falters, having worked so hard to take the lead in the set. He is 30-0 up and should be comfortable, but allows Djokovic back in, double faulting and making an error to give up a break point. Yet he rescues himself with a forehand and manages to secure the game. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 2-5 Wawrinka

In the athletics in Birmingham, the men’s 100 metres has seen a handful of personal bests. Marvin Bracy of the United States won the race in 9.93, and Adam Gemili came second in 9.97. Further back, Richard Kilty in fifth also ran a personal best, with a time of 10.05. That’s a good run from Bracy and Gemili, finishing ahead of Michael Rodgers and Nesta Carter. Bracy, only 21 years old, is a former American football wide receiver for the Florida State Seminoles.

16:21 – Two magnificent winners off both flanks give Wawrinka three break points at 0-40. And Djokovic, under such pressure, hits an ill-advised drop shot, which Wawrinka pushes past him to break. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 2-4 Wawrinka*

16:15 – And again Wawrinka steams through a service game, holding to love. He has hit 36 winners so far this match to Djokovic’s 18. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 2-3 Wawrinka

16:13 – A drop shot gives Djokovic the opening point. Wawrinka keeps coming back at him, but he holds. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 2-2 Wawrinka*

16:08 – Wawrinka is unhappy with a forehand called long for 15-15; but Djokovic soon succumbs after the efforts of the last game. Wawrinka is firmly on top at the moment, forcing Djokovic into plenty of mistakes. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 1-2 Wawrinka

16:05 – A vital hold for Djokovic after saving three break points. Two unforced errors give Wawrinka 15-40, but Djokovic recovers, winning successive points on the backhand at the net. Wawrinka has another chance to break, but Djokovic stays strong. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 1-1 Wawrinka*

15:59 – He has to come from behind with a forehand and an ace, but Wawrinka successfully holds in the first game of the third set. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 0-1 Wawrinka

15:56 – At the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, the Birmingham Grand Prix, the men’s 5,000 metres is underway. So far Eunice Sum took the women’s 800 metres in a strong time of 1:59.85, with Laura Muir coming second with a personal best of 2:00.42; Stephenie Ann McPherson won the women’s 400 metres flat; Nijel Amos beat out the two Poles, Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski, in the men’s 800 metres; and Kaliese Spencer won the women’s 400 metre hurdles.

James Kiplagat Magut won the men’s 1500 metres ahead of his Kenyan compatriots Hillary Cheruiyot Ngetich and Vincent Kibet. Mo Farah had been scheduled to run in the race, but pulled out this morning citing the strain of this week, which has seen his coach Alberto Salazar accused of involvement in doping.

15:51 –  Djokovic acknowledges a backhand winner from Wawrinka for 30-15; then a forehand down the line makes it 30-30. A loose backhand gives Wawrinka set point; and after a couple of driving returns, Djokovic again goes long. Second set to Wawrinka. Djokovic 6-4, 4-6 Wawrinka*

15:45 – Another relatively easy hold for Wawrinka, capped off with a forehand. Djokovic serving to stay in the set. *Djokovic 6-4, 4-5 Wawrinka

15:41 – Djokovic makes a couple of errors on the forehand for 15-30, but then wins a gruelling cross-court rally and aces to pull ahead. He thinks he has won the game with a forehand; but the umpire rules it just out. Then a loose backhand and Wawrinka has break point. Now Wawrinka questions a call; but his shot was long, and standing too far back in the court, he can’t reach a drop shot, allowing Djokovic to hold. Wawrinka bashes his racket atop the net in frustration. Djokovic 6-4, 4-4 Wawrinka*

The last four Grand Slam matches between these two – at the Australian Open in 2015, 2014, and 2013, and the US Open in 2013 – have all gone to five sets. Wawrinka has threatened to get on top in this second set, but he needs to take it.

15:32 – Three clean winners – a volley, a forehand, and an ace – give Wawrinka 40-0. But he lets Djokovic back into it, with two unforced errors for deuce. Good depth on the next point forces Djokovic to net, and Wawrinka holds. *Djokovic 6-4, 3-4 Wawrinka

15:27 – Wawrinka keeps laying in to the ball, and Djokovic raises his arms helplessly at 30-30. Wawrinka earns a chance to break; but Djokovic won’t be beaten, and Wawrinka loses the game after failing to control a smash. Djokovic 6-4, 3-3 Wawrinka*

15:20 – Wawrinka gets down low on the volley to win the opening point of the game, and that’s a straightforward hold. *Djokovic 6-4, 2-3 Wawrinka

15:18 – Meanwhile over in Dublin, the Republic of Ireland and England have played out an abject 0-0 friendly draw. The highlight of the match was Leicester City’s 28-year-old striker Jamie Vardy making his England debut. Little learnt, certainly nobody entertained, and an illustration of why attempts to revitalise international football in England are both inadequate and inappropriate.

15:15 – A cute backhand volley from Djokovic stops the ball at the net for 30-15; but Wawrinka thumps a forehand and Djokovic errs and Wawrinka has break point. He can’t capitalise with his backhand, but gets another chance to break after nailing a smash. Still however Djokovic holds. Djokovic 6-4, 2-2 Wawrinka*

15:09 – Wawrinka mirrors Djokovic, holding to love. *Djokovic 6-4, 1-2 Wawrinka

15:06 – Djokovic gets the better of Wawrinka with a drop shot, then keeps the pressure on and forces Wawrinka to hit a forehand high and wild. Djokovic 6-4, 1-1 Wawrinka*

15:03 – This a crucial game for Wawrinka, and he faces a break point at 30-40. But an ace and a backhand volley see him through. He holds in the first game of the second set. *Djokovic 6-4, 0-1 Wawrinka

14:57 – At 30-15 Wawrinka thinks he has caught the line, but the umpire says he can see space between line and ball. Hawk-Eye suggests the ball was in fact in, but still we go to 40-15 and two set points for Djokovic. He loses the first; then attempts to drop Wawrinka on the second, only for Wawrinka to reach the ball, and rush to the back of the court to fire a backhand which clips the net and spoils Djokovic’s volley. Deuce, and now Wawrinka has an opportunity to break back. But he can’t return Djokovic’s serve, and that is the first set. Djokovic 6-4 Wawrinka*

14:48 – Three winners on the forehand and Wawrinka is at least back on track on his serve. *Djokovic 5-4 Wawrinka

14:45 – Djokovic consolidates the break with an ace, and stands one game away from the first set. Djokovic 5-3 Wawrinka*

14:40 – A disaster for Wawrinka after starting the match so well. He falls behind 0-30, then hits off the frame on a backhand and double faults to hand Djokovic a break. *Djokovic 4-3 Wawrinka

14:37 – Djokovic gestures towards his box at the start of the game, already perturbed by Wawrinka’s power; but he holds his serve comfortably. Djokovic 3-3 Wawrinka*

14:35 – Now Wawrinka loses the first two points on serve; and though he comes back into it, he faces another break point at 30-40. He keeps going for his shots however, hitting with tremendous power, and after a couple of deuces he holds on. *Djokovic 2-3 Wawrinka*

14:29 – Djokovic falls behind 0-30, but wins the next four points to hold. Djokovic 2-2 Wawrinka*

14:24 – Wawrinka holds to love, finishing the game off with an ace. *Djokovic 1-2 Wawrinka

14:22 – Wawrinka wins a couple of points, but Djokovic sees the game out to hold serve. Djokovic 1-1 Wawrinka*

14:19 – Wawrinka comes out firing with a volley and a forehand winner, but Djokovic responds immediately. An ace gives Wawrinka 40-30, but two errors and Djokovic has his first chance to break. An exceptional rally back at deuce sees Wawrinka prevail, and he takes the opening game of the match. *Djokovic 0-1 Wawrinka

14:13 – The two men have completed their warm-ups, and the match is ready to commence. Wawrinka to serve. (* Indicates next to serve).

– While all of the statistics suggest a Djokovic victory, he hasn’t faced anyone with Wawrinka’s hitting power so far this French Open. Matches between Djokovic and Murray are always cagey affairs; and Nadal struggled throughout the tournament to put bite and depth on his forehand.

– After Serena Williams triumphed in three sets over Lucie Safarova yesterday to win the women’s tournament, today it is the turn of the men. Novak Djokovic, the world number one and first seed, will face Stan Wawrinka, world number nine and eighth seed, in the French Open men’s final. We’ll also be keeping an eye on some of the international football friendlies, the Birmingham Grand Prix, and looking ahead to tonight and the second day of the Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Djokovic is now on a 28-match winning streak, after beating Andy Murray across Friday evening and Saturday. Two-sets-to-one ahead ahead when an imminent downpour and failing light halted play, when the players emerged on Philippe Chatrier on Saturday ahead of the women’s final, Djokovic lost the fourth set from 3-3; but then stormed through the fifth 6-1.

The two sets he lost against Murray were his first dropped sets all tournament. He is still to compete in a tie-break. And again, the number one hasn’t lost on clay all year, and he is unbeaten in a Grand Slam or Masters event since Shanghai last October. His path to the final has seen him dispatch Jarkko Nieminen, Gilles Muller, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Richard Gasquet, Rafael Nadal on the Spaniard’s 29th birthday, and then Andy Murray. While he has won on the clay of Monte Carlo and Rome this year, he is still to win his first French Open, twice – in 2012 and 2014 – finishing runner-up to Nadal. Winning the tournament today would see him complete a Career Grand Slam.

Wawrinka meanwhile overcame Marsel Ilhan, Dusan Lajovic, Steve Johnson, Gilles Simon, Roger Feder, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on course to the final. He is a dangerous player on the clay, with his best victory on the surface coming at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2014. He has one success to his name already at the French Open: he became the boys’ champion in 2003.

Djokovic holds a 17-3 head-to-head lead over Wawrinka. Two of Wawrinka’s victories in this regard came all the way back in 2006. Their most notable Grand Slam contests have been at the Australian Open: Wawrinka prevailing 9-7 in the fifth set of their quarter-final match in 2014, with Wawrinka going on to win the tournament and his first Grand Slam; Djokovic avenging that defeat earlier this year, winning 6-0 in the fifth set of their semi-final match, on the way to his fifth Australian Open. Djokovic is looking for his ninth Grand Slam, Wawrinka his second.

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