In one of the strangest days in pro tennis history, both Friday semifinals went uncontested due to a pair of walkovers at the Sony Open in Miami – a first for the men’s tour in the Open Era.
A bizarre series of events began just before 3pm when oft-injured Kei Nishikori announced he was pulling out of his match with Novak Djokovic due to a left groin injury.
“Very sorry to say that I have to pull out today,” the 24-year-old wrote on Facebook. “Very disappointed and I am obviously very sorry for any fans that wanted to come out for this match.
“This tournament is very special to me and I look forward to coming back in the years to come. I will work with my medical team to be back healthy as soon as possible.”
Showing no signs of ill health, Nishikori had reached his first Miami semifinal after upset wins earlier this week over fan favorites David Ferrer and Roger Federer.
Nishikori says he will return to Japan for further treatment.
With Djokovic through to his fifth Miami final, it was now up to Nadal to keep pace. But like his rival Serb, he too wouldn’t need to hit a ball to advance.
A hour before start of his semifinal with Nadal, Tomas Berdych revealed his was suffering from gastroenteritis, and would be unable to take the court against Rafa.
“Last night was basically the same as every other night,” Berdych said. “I end up in the same place, restaurant, nearly had the same foods to eat and everything was fine.
“In the morning, 7:30, 8:00, I just woke up with a pain in my stomach, just went for toilet, and got really strong diarrhea. nd since then, it starts to go on and on. More time, diarrhea, and then also throwing up and stuff like that. So I lost so much of the liquid and all the possible energy I could have. Came here. Tried to do as much as I could, you know, see the doctors, receiving the IV, and basically not with good results that I can basically go and try.”
Berdych had lost to Nadal 16 straight times, a streak that would make many men sick.
So with sufficient rest, Nadal and Djokovic will meet for a 40th time on Sunday afternoon. Nadal leads 22-17 but Djokovic won here in a thrilling 2011 final.
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