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Withdrawals send Nadal, Djokovic into Miami final

Key Biscayne, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic basically got free passes into the title match at the Sony Open on Friday after their opponents pulled out of the semifinals.

The top-seeded Nadal was to play No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych, but the Czech withdrew from the scheduled night match due to gastroenteritis.

"Last night was basically the same as every other night. I ended up in the same restaurant, everything was fine," Berdych said in a statement from the tournament. "I woke up at 7:30 in the morning with pain in my stomach. I am disappointed about not getting a chance to play."

Earlier in the day, Kei Nishikori pulled out of his semifinal match against Djokovic. The 20th-seeded Nishikori cited a left groin injury as the reason for his withdrawal at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.

The walkovers sets up the 40th meeting between Nadal and Djokovic, the top two seeds in this tournament. Djokovic has won the last two meetings, and 14 of the last 16 encounters have come in finals. These players met in the title match of the 2011 event in Miami, won in three sets by Djokovic. The Serbian also beat Nadal in the quarterfinals in Miami in 2007.

A weary Nishikori needed three sets to defeat both world No. 5 Roger Federer and fourth-ranked David Ferrer on back-to-back days to reach the final four here.

"Very sorry to say that I have to pull out today," Nishikori said 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 look forward to coming back in the years to come."

The walkover is Djokovic's second of the tournament after Florian Mayer pulled out in the third round.

The former world No. 1 Serbian star, who won this event in 2007, 2011 and 2012, is fresh off his Masters title at Indian Wells.

Nadal is a three-time runner-up at this ATP Masters 1000 event.

The 26-year-old Djokovic will appear in his 64th career ATP final, seeking a 43rd title. He's trying to win his fourth Miami title and complete the Indian Wells-Miami double for the second time in his career, having turned the trick in 2011.

The 27-year-old Nadal is after his 63rd championship, and third this year. Miami is one of three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events that Nadal has yet to win, along with Shanghai and Paris.

The 2014 Miami champ will earn $787,000.