Let's hear it for Lee after 1st ATP win

Tanya Simon
August 22, 2019

The 21-year-old from South Korea was two points from victory when thunderstorms swept through the area.

As much as the opening-round victory meant to Lee and his career, it might have meant even more to hearing-impaired athletes in all sports.

Lee Duckhee became the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour main draw match on Monday when the South Korean defeated Henri Laaksonen 7-6 (4) 6-1 in the first round of the Winston-Salem Open.

Lee, ranked 212 in the world, turned pro at 15 and achieved his best ATP singles ranking of 130th in the world in 2017, toiling mainly on the developmental Challenger circuit.

During matches, he admits that his disability can make games hard; unable to hear the umpire's calls, he relies on gestures from the officials to clear up any confusion.

The South Korean is now No. 212 and will face world No. 40 Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.

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"I understand I am the first deaf professional tennis player in the ATP", Lee said in his native tongue, Korean.

Lee fired nine aces on his way to claiming the groundbreaking victory. "They told me I shouldn't be playing", said Lee during his post-match interview, assisted by his fiancée, who clarified his answers in English. "To read the spins and to see how - like, if I was to play with headphones on, it's unbelievably hard to pick up the speed that the ball's coming at, the spin that's coming".

Lee Duck-hee poses after winning a match at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina on Monday.

Meantime, Andy Murray showed glimpses of his once-dominant self, but was inconsistent in a 7-6 (10-8), 7-5 loss to 73rd-ranked American Tennys Sandgren in a match lasting 2 hours and 10 minutes. "I'm going to do my best and see what happens", Lee said.

"Some things were a bit better today I think", Murray said.

Vandeweghe, who recently returned from a lengthy absence caused by an ankle injury and like Ahn was given a wildcard into this week's new WTA tournament, lost 3-6, 0-6 to Anna Blinkova.

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