Miami ATP Masters: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meet in Sunday showpiece
Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic continue their longstanding rivalry when they meet for the 40th time in the Miami final.
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza
Last Updated: 30/03/14 4:57pm
Both players received walkovers in the semi-finals after their opponents pulled out of the tournament within hours of each other on Friday.
Djokovic was first gifted a spot in Sunday's final when Japan's Kei Nishikori withdrew with a groin injury.
And then a few hours later seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych announced he was withdrawing due to gastroenteritis, handing Nadal a free pass.
Now the world's top two players meet again in a mouthwatering clash at the Crandon Park complex.
World No 1 Nadal leads their career head-to-head 22-17, but Djokovic, the second seed, leads the way 13-7 on hardcourts and has won their last two encounters, in the finals in Beijing and at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The Serb, who beat Federer for the Indian Wells Masters title two weeks ago, is in the Miami final for the fifth time, and will be seeking a fourth title to go with those he won in 2007, 2011 and 2012.
Meanwhile his opponent will be attempting to claim his maiden trophy at the event after finishing as runner-up on three previous occasions.
One of those defeats came against his rival Djokovic in a third-set tiebreaker in the 2011 title match, but the pair will be meeting for the first time this season.
The 27-year-old Nadal will be seeking his 63rd ATP career title and his third this season after victories in Rio de Janeiro and Doha.
And the 13-time grand slam winner has been in brilliant form in Key Biscayne.
He cruised past Lleyton Hewitt, Denis Istomin and Fabio Fognini before out-slugging big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic in the last eight.
"Only chance to win against Novak is play to the limit, play my best and hope that he is not going to have his best day," said the left-handed Mallorcan, who is looking to claim an unprecedented 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
"For me, I am going on court and trying my best. It doesn't make any difference if it's one tournament or another one. For sure, Miami is a very important tournament that I never had the chance to win in the past.
"It is my fourth final. It's positive results. To be able to play four finals in one tournament is because you did well, and I am going to try to be ready for Sunday."
The walkover was the second of the tournament for Djokovic, who had a free pass in the third round when Florian Mayer pulled out with a groin injury.
He should be well rested for today's final, not having played in four days and contested just three matches the entire tournament.
"It's such a big event, and from a player's perspective, it's never nice to have a walkover to go on to the finals without a fight," said Djokovic. "Now the only thing I can think about is finals and focus on winning the title."
The six-time major champion will now aim to try to keep himself fit and sharp in preparation against Nadal, who he lost to in the final of the US Open in September.
"I'm trying just to keep up whatever I have been doing the last 10 days," said the 26-year-old Serb, who is bidding to become just the second player to complete the Indian Wells, Miami title sweep on two separate occasions.
"I have won Indian Wells, which gave me a lot of confidence, played a lot of matches, put in a lot of hours on the practice court, and hopefully it will pay off."
Watch Nadal take on Djokovic live on Sky Sports 3HD from 7pm.