The men's ASB Classic has been dealt a big blow two days out from the tournament with news that Tomas Berdych has withdrawn from the Auckland event.
Berdych was due to make his first appearance at the Classic next week, but the 33-year-old pulled out in favour of competing in the final of the Qatar Open, where he'll meet defending Auckland champion Roberto Bautista Agut in the final.
The former world number four pulled out moments before the draw was scheduled to take place, and will use the time instead to prepare for the upcoming Australian Open.
The Czech star's place in the main draw has been taken by Kiwi wildcard Rubin Statham, with Auckland-raised Brit Cameron Norrie also receiving a wildcard.
Statham, currently ranked 318 in the world, was drawn to face sixth seed Hyeon Chung in the first round, while Norrie will face Frenchman Benoit Paire.
Bautista Agut will face Leonardi Mayer, but the pick of the first round games is between Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov and 2017 finalist Joao Sousa.
Shapovalov, who lost in the second round at last year's Classic, is determined to do better and contend for the title.
"I was really excited when we decided to come back here. I think it's a great place to start the season," he said.
"Last year I felt a lot of support from the organisation from Karl [Budge] in general with accommodation as soon as I got here he showed me around he made me feel at home, so I really enjoyed my time last year.
"When we talked about coming this year, I was really excited from experience last year and as well as the fans.
"When I played [Juan Martin] Del Potro last year, it was so much fun the fans were electric for both sides, but it was a great atmosphere to be under."
Fan favourite David Ferrer will face Robin Haase in the opening round with a potential matchup against fellow Spaniard Pablo Busta Carreno on the cards.
Top four seeds, American John Isner, Italian pair Fabio Fognini and Marco Cecchinato along with Busta Carreno all have first-round byes.
Italian Matteo Berrettini, American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Gael Monfils will all face qualifiers in the opening round.