Moments before the first semifinal of the day, which No. 7 Dominic Thiem won 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-4 over heavy-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic, Rafael Nadal announced he was withdrawing from the tournament with a right knee injury.
The world number two received treatment to the knee during his gruelling quarter-final win over Russia's Karen Khachanov on Friday.
"I love to play on hard (courts), but probably my body don't love it that much", Nadal said, according to Christopher Clarey of the New York Times. He twice called for a trainer, who applied tape just below Nadal's knee. "His serve is just unreal so even though I played awesome it was so close the first two sets". He played flawless tennis against Raonic, a player he'd never taken a set from until Saturday, and didn't face a break point until the final game of the match.
The Austrian said it would "mean the world" to break through for a Masters crown, but noted it would be a tall order against 20-time Grand Slam victor Federer - who is coming off a remarkable 100th career title in Dubai last month.
Ethiopian Airlines flight carrying 157 people to Nairobi crashes, no survivors
Anxious families gathered at the flight's destination, the airport in Nairobi , the capital of neighboring Kenya. The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in African skies, where travel had always been chaotic.
Federer has won each of the last five meetings, but Nadal holds a 23-15 lifetime head-to-head edge.
"I wanted to try my best to be competitive today", Nadal told reporters, including tennis writer Carole Bouchard. Federer has triumphed in both of their hard court matches.
"You look back at what I did well there, but you can't just copy-paste and play exactly the same thing again", Federer said. "It's a big tournament, big final for me tomorrow especially after last year's tough loss against Juan Martin", Federer said.
Federer has flown through the draw thus far at the first Masters 1000 event of the year, winning all eight sets he has played. What can I say?