One of the biggest drawcards of the men's 2019 ASB Classic is out of the tournament.
Two-time Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, who was set to make his first visit to Auckland, has pulled out of the tournament after reaching the final of the Doha ATP event.
Berdych, who reached a career high ranking of four, was one of the biggest names in the field after being granted a wildcard by tournament director Karl Budge last year.
It's a disappointment for the event and fans, but also a reality of tennis, especially for the ASB Classic.
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It's not the first time it has happened, as in the past names such as David Ferrer, Gael Monfils and John Isner have almost withdrawn on the eve of the event, after doing well the previous week, to rest and recover before the Australian Open.
The proximity of the Melbourne Grand Slam is a doubled edged sword for the men's Classic.
It's a major advantage in attracting players to this country, as it is only a short hop across the Tasman after they have made the long trip from Europe, North America, South America or Asia.
But it's also a huge focus for players within their season, and they don't want to take any risks the week before, with so much prize money, ranking prestige and ranking points on offer in Melbourne.
Berdych's place is the main draw is taken by former top New Zealand junior Cameron Norrie, who now plays under the British flag. The world No. 90 was lived in Auckland from an early age, after her parents emigrated from South Africa. He was an outstanding local prospect – reaching the top 10 in the world as a junior – but struggled to gain much support or funding from Tennis New Zealand at the time and switched allegiances to Britain just before his 17th birthday and turned professional in June 2017.
Norrie enjoyed an outstanding 2018 season, reaching the semi-finals in Atlanta (beating Nick Kygrios and Jeremy Chard yen route), beat several top-50 players and made his Davis Cup debut, coming from two sets down to beat Roberto Bautista-Agut on clay.
New Zealand No. 1 Rubin Statham has also gained a wildcard to the main draw. Statham had a solid 2018 campaign, and is currently ranked 318 in the world.