U.S. Sports Desk, Mar 29 (EFE).- Spain's Rafael Nadal advanced to the final of the Sony Open Tennis event in Miami after Tomas Berdych was forced to withdraw due to gastroenteritis, just hours after fans were disappointed when Novak Djokovic booked a spot in the championship match when Kei Nishikori pulled out of the tournament with a groin injury.
It marks the first time in tennis' Open Era, which dates back to the late 1960s, that an ATP Tour-level event has been hit by two semifinal walkovers.
Both Nadal, who holds a 17-3 career edge over Berdych, and Djokovic, a much more accomplished player than Nishikori despite their 1-1 record head-to-head, were big favorites in Friday's semifinals of this elite outdoor hard-court event.
Sunday's final, however, will be a dream match-up against two evenly matched opponents.
The Spaniard holds a 22-17 lead in their overall head-to-head, but Djokovic has won 13 of their 20 matches on hard courts.
Nadal, who has lost in the final of this event on three occasions, will try to capture his first Miami title. Djokovic has lifted the winner's trophy on three occasions: 2007, 2011 (defeating Nadal in the final 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)) and 2012.
American 17-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams will square off against China's Li Na, the reigning Australian Open champion, in Saturday's women's final.
The Sony Open Tennis is one of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events and ranks among the biggest hard-court events on the ATP and WTA calendars. EFE