The ASB Classic has lost another top player, with defending champion Roberto Bautista-Agut pulling out of the event due to fatigue.
His withdrawal follows that of Tomas Berdych, which was announced on Saturday.
The world No. 24 won the Qatar Open in Doha overnight, beating Berdych in three sets in a match that lasted two hours.
Bautista-Agut is in some of the best form of his life, demonstrated by his stunning three set victory over Novak Djokovic last week in Doha. The Serbian has been almost unbeatable on hard courts over the last six months, but Bautista-Agut trumped him in a tactical masterclass.
The 30-year-old also has an outstanding record on Stanley Street. The Spanish player hasn't tasted defeat in Auckland since 2015, and claimed the trophy in 2016 and last year, with an epic final victory over Juan Martin Del Porto. Bautista-Agut also reached the semi finals here in 2014.
It's a blow for the Classic, but not a surprise.
Bautista-Agut's first round match was scheduled for Tuesday, which would have given him little time to acclimatize, and also recover from the long 17-hour journey from the Middle East.
And it's also the difficult reality for the ASB Classic, given the proximity of the Australian Open.
The grand slam in Melbourne is the primary focus for all players at this time of the year, and they won't do anything to compromise their preparations for that event.
The exit of Bautista-Agut means popular American Steve Johnson becomes a seed at the tournament and will now face Leonardo Mayer in the first round, while a 'lucky loser will also be promoted from the qualifying tournament.
The main draw on Monday is headlined by exciting Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov, while iconic doubles pairing Bob and Mike Bryan will make just their second ever appearance in Auckland.