ASB Classic: Frenchman Gael Monfils joins star attractions on tournament sideline

Flamboyant Gael Monfils is the latest high-profile withdrawal from the ASB Classic.

The Frenchman has cited a thigh injury as the reason for his early departure from Auckland.

Monfils joins wild card Tomas Berdych and defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut as tournament scratches, although the 32-year-old had been in the country for a week.

Monfils had been part of New Zealand tennis' showpiece event three times, but failed to take the court.

Monfils was due to play countryman Ugo Humbert on Tuesday night - his place is now taken by Uruguayan 'lucky loser' Pablo Cuevas, who lost in the final round of qualifying.

Cuevas was the sixth seed at the 2018 tournament.

On Monday, Monfils told media that he was gutted to have let down tournament director Karl Budge.

"I committed with Karl that I won't play the first week," Monfils said.

"Last year, in the first week, I won the tournament [in Doha], but I was happy and excited to come back here, because it's been years that I didn't come back and play the tournament.

"I had great support the last time I came here [in 2013]. I was a wildcard as well and this I don't forget, it was a big help from Karl.

"So I'm disappointed about the situation I've put myself and the tournament through, because obviously, this year is tough, because they've had a couple of retirements."

Budge was unsurprisingly disappointed at the latest piece of bad news, but didn't direct any frustration towards Monfils.

"As a tennis fan myself, like a lot of people, I was going to be glued to the balcony tomorrow evening to watch the most entertaining bloke in tennis do what he does," Budge said.

"I appreciate the way Gael has gone about it - he saw me, he really tried."