THE Bendigo ATP Challenger event has been thrown wide open following the withdrawal of the tournament's top seed Marton Fucsovics.
Fucsovics retired from his second round match against Italian Andrea Vavassori on Tuesday after sustaining an ankle injury.
The Hungarian was trailing Vavassori 4-5 in the opening set of their clash at the Bendigo Tennis Centre when he succumbed to the injury.
Fucsovics now faces a race against time to be fit for next week's Australian Open in Melbourne.
Tournament director Jason Simmons wished Fucsovics all the best in his recovery ahead of the year's first grand slam, which begins in five days.
"It's unfortunate that Marton had to retire from today's (Tuesday's) match but we wish him the best for a speedy recovery and hope that he can be ready for the Australian Open," Simmons said.
The top seed's withdrawal allowed Vavassori to advance to a round of 16 clash against 16th seeded Australian Maverick Banes, who impressed on Monday with a convincing straight sets win over Japan's Naoki Tajima.
The tournament suffered a second casualty, with Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka also forced to retire from his match on Tuesday against Sasikumar Mukund, while trailing 2-5 in the first set.
An all-Australian clash between the tournament's eighth seed Christopher O'Connell and Alexander Crnokrak shapes as a highlight on Wednesday, following O'Connell's straight sets win over Liam Caruana yesterday.
O'Connell, who drew a bye in the opening round and is ranked 116th in the world, easily accounted for the 21-year-old Italian 6-3, 6-1.
A fourth remaining Australian Calum Puttergill will face fourth seeded American Steve Johnson, also on Wednesday, in the second match on centre court, after both were impressive winners on Monday.
Puttergill defeated Estonia's Marcelo Arevalo 6-4, 6-2, while Johnson was made to work all the way for a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 win over Markos Kalovelonuis, from Greece.
It was a tough Tuesday for Dayne Kelly and Dane Sweeny, with the Aussies going down in close encounters to number three seed Stefano Travaglia and number five seed Damir Dzumhur respectively.
Kelly fell 6-4, 6-4 to Travaglia, but not without a spirited fight, while Sweeny could not quite overcome the Bosnian Dzumhur, dropping the second set 6-3 after losing the first in a tie-breaker.
Greek Michail Pervolarakis, who burst onto the scene during the ATP Cup earlier this month, was ousted by seventh seed Marcos Giron (USA) 6-3 6-0.
In remaining second round matches played on Tuesday, 14th seeded Russian Konstantin Kravchuk ended Argentianian Matias Franco Descotte's tournament hopes with a clinical 6-2, 6-4 win, while France's Harold Mayot upset the sixth seeded Egor Gerasimov 7-5, 6-4.
In an all-French battle on Wednesday, Mayot faces the 12th seed Hugo Greneier in the first game on court four at 10am.
The road to the quarter finals will be a tough one for Kravchuk, who faces the might of the Italian Travaglia on court two, following a clash between the number two seed Roberto Carballes Baena and the Chilean Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera (13th).
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