Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut pulls out of Auckland

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Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut pulls out of Auckland

Spanish tennis star Roberto Bautista Agut has withdrawn from the ASB Classic in Auckland. The Spaniard opened his 2019 campaign in style as he made it all the way at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. The 30-year-old beat Czech Tomas Berdych in the Doha final on Saturday.

World No. 33 Steve Johnson has moved into Bautista Agut's place in the draw. Johnson, 29, is set to make his sixth consecutive main draw appearance on the hard courts of Auckland. The American's best run at the ASB Classic came in 2017 -- when he reached the semi-final before losing to fellow compatriot Jack Sock.

"Roberto Bautista-Agut has withdrawn from the tournament following his win in Doha. The Spaniard beat Tomas Berdych in the final of the Qatar Open overnight 64 36 63. This win has meant Bautista-Agut is unable to arrive in Auckland until Monday evening.

This has unfortunately ruled the Spaniard out of the ASB Classic," the tournament announced through its Twitter account. "American Steve Johnson will move in to Bautista-Agut’s place in the draw." Losing Bautista Agut is a big blow for the ASB Classic.

The Spaniard has been a familiar face at the Auckland event in recent years. Bautista Agut made it all the way at the ASB Classic in 2016 and 2018. Bautista Agut was unable to defend his title in 2017 as well as he was forced to skip the event.

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