KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA – No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic advanced to the Sony Open final without playing a point on Friday.
Both received walkovers when their semifinal opponents withdrew for health reasons. That left Nadal and Djokovic to play for the title on Sunday in their 40th career meeting and their first of 2014.
It was the first time since at least 1968 that an ATP Tour event had two walkovers in the semifinals.
Djokovic was given a walkover for the second time in the tournament when Kei Nishikori withdrew because of a left groin injury. Four hours later, Tomas Berdych pulled out before his match against Nadal due to gastroenteritis.
“It’s very unlucky, very unusual,” Nadal said. “Sorry for Kei, sorry for Tomas, and sorry for the tournament, especially sorry for the fans.”
The wave of ailments left the tournament with only two women’s doubles matches. Former No. 1 Martina Hingis advanced to her first doubles final since 2007 when she and Sabine Lisicki beat Cara Black and Sania Mirza 6-3, 6-4.
Nishikori and Berdych both said they did what they could to feel better. Each pulled out less than two hours before his match.
“I tried to warm up and I couldn’t move” Nishikori said. “With anybody on the other side, I don’t think I could win today.”
Berdych blamed a virus for the stomach pains that hit him Friday morning. He said he became dehydrated despite receiving intravenous fluids.
“That’s the worst basically that a tennis player can get,” Berdych said. “Without any energy or anything, you cannot do anything.”
Nishikori said his groin has bothered him for more than a month, and he retired during a match in Delray Beach last month.
Nishikori has retired or withdrawn 14 times in his career, including three times in Grand Slam events. He was hoping to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final.
“It was going to be a great challenge for me today,” Nishikori said. “Hopefully I can play another time.”