An ATP first: Semifinals hit with two walkovers on a rough day at Sony Open
Spare a thought for the ticket-toting fans at the Sony Open on Friday. The tournament was hit with an unprecedented pair of withdrawals in the men's semifinals, which gave No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic walkovers into Sunday's final.
The day began with news that Kei Nishikori, on the heels of two top-five wins over Roger Federer and David Ferrer, was forced to withdraw from his semifinal against Djokovic with a left groin injury. The news stung even more given Nishikori's fantastic effort to oust Federer in the quarterfinals, coming back from a set and break down to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2011 Shanghai Masters. It also recalled the long-running joke about "The Federer Curse":
10 of the last 11 players ranked outside the Top 10 to defeat Federer have all lost (or withdrawn) in their next match. #curse
— Josh Meiseles (@jmeistennis) March 28, 2014
As fans waited for the second semifinal of the day to begin between Nadal and No. 7 Tomas Berdych, the ATP announced Berdych was also ruled out due to gastroenteritis, marking the first time in ATP history that both semifinals resulted in walkovers at a tour-level event. Boos rang out at Crandon Park when the second withdrawal announcement was made and ESPN scrambled to fill air time with extended interviews with Nadal and Djokovic.
While all that was happening, Twitter exploded with shock, frustration, and humor. Read a collection of some of the best tweets below:
Whatt?! pic.twitter.com/2Bc6W6NMhB — Eugenie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) March 28, 2014
Kei Nishikori beats Roger Federer, then pulls out of Sony Open with groin injury. That'll teach him….
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) March 28, 2014
Paging Roger Federer: Thousands of fans in Miami looking for a nice match to watch against a guy named Novak. Are you available? — Tom Perrotta (@TomPerrotta) March 28, 2014
.@rogerfederer was just at the pool. He's still in town! He was joking he's available as a last minute substitute for the semis.
— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) March 28, 2014
Can Federer play Djokovic and Nadal two-on-one in an exhibition match in Miami tonight? Give the fans something to watch... — Bette Marston (@ehm1989) March 28, 2014
What about novak and rafa playing today, tomorrow and sunday?? #bestofthree #matches
— Ivan Ljubicic (@theljubicic) March 28, 2014
@SI_BTBaseline Tio Toni vs. Marian Vajda. In short shorts. Unleash hell. — Aleksa (@Noleksa) March 28, 2014
Got to say, the tennis gods really dished it out to #ESPNTennis today for tape delaying the Fed-Nishikori Miami QF. #feartheirwrath — Andrew Burton (@burtonad) March 28, 2014
Solid semis in Miami today! Who retired with more style? — Dmitry Tursunov (@TursunovTales) March 28, 2014