Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut has pulled out of the ASB Classic after winning the Qatar Open in Doha on Sunday (NZ time).
Bautista Agut won his ninth ATP Tour title with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Tomas Berdych - who pulled out of the ASB Classic on Saturday - in preparation for the Australian Open.
En route to the final in Doha, Bautista Agut also beat world number one Novak Djokovic and former Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, and cites fatigue as the reason why he won't be defending his Auckland title.
The loss of Bautista Agut is a huge blow for the Auckland event as the 30-year-old is a two-time winner of the event, having won the title in 2016 and 2018.
His first match against Argentine Leonardo Mayer was scheduled for Tuesday which would have given him little time to prepare for the event after a 17-hour flight from the Middle East.
The exit of the world number 24 means popular American Steve Johnson becomes a seed and will face Mayer in the first round, while an extra player will be promoted from the qualifying tournament.
Now that he won’t be competing in Auckland, it will give Bautista Agut plenty of time to recover for the Australian Open after coming out on top in Doha.
The Spaniard the tournament's seventh seed, forced a break chance to lead 5-3 midway through the opening set, which he eventually claimed while Czech Berdych saved three set points on his next service game.
Berdych, ranked 71st in the world, had beaten Italian fourth seed Marco Cecchinato to make the final and would go on to force a decider having moved 3-1 ahead in the second set.
Bautista Agut found his range when it mattered to break Berdych early on and then move 5-2 up before closing out victory on his first match point with a love service game.
Berdych was playing his first tournament since the June 2018 Queen's Club Championship after he suffered a back injury.