Roberto Bautista Agut will arrive in Auckland on the back of winning the Qatar Open. (FILE PIC)
Just a day after the big-name withdrawal of Tomas Berdych, the ASB Classic men's tournament has been dealt another huge blow, with defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut now also pulling out, citing fatigue.
The Spanish world No 24 was set to arrive in Auckland for next week's tournament in hot touch after claiming the Qatar Open title on Sunday morning (NZ time) with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Berdych.
?It was the 30-year-old's ninth ATP title, capping a great week where he beat three players who have been ranked in the world's top four, having also toppled Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals and world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the semis.
Berdych - playing in his first tournament since June due to a back injury - on Saturday pulled out of what would have been his first appearance at the ASB Classic, but Bautista Agut was set to still be boarding a flight to New Zealand straight after his final.
He was to be seeded fifth in Auckland - where he was also champion in 2016 - and was drawn to face Argentine world No 56 Leonardo Mayer in the first round, with second seed Marco Cecchinato, third seed Fabio Fognini and eighth seed Gael Monfils also on that side of the draw.
After Berdych pulled out on Saturday, tournament director Karl Budge was still confident of having Bautista Agut play, ahead of the Australian Open later in the month.
"If there's ever a player that will come it's Roberto," he had said. "He plays incredibly well here, he's always tried to come and get on court.
"It's awesome that he beat Novak and I know he's got a flight booked so he can leave straight after the final and still make it."
With Bautista Agut out, American Steve Johnson becomes seeded and will face Mayer, with a 'lucky loser' to be promoted from the qualifying tournament.