Lee Duck-hee made a scoop on Monday (local time). The 21-year-old South Korean won in the first round in Winston-Salem and is therefore the first deaf tennis player with a win in the main schedule of a tournament on the ATP Tour.
Lee settled in two sets on the American hard court with the Swiss Henri Laaksonen: 7-6 (4) and 6-1.
"People laughed at me because of my handicap. They told me that I shouldn't play," said the number 212 of the world after his victory. "It was absolutely difficult, but my family and friends dragged me through it. My message to people with hearing impairment is that they should not be discouraged. If you do your best, you can do whatever you want."
Lee's responded to his press conference with the help of a volunteer who translated the questions from English into Korean, and his fiancé Soopin, who passed the questions on to the South Korean and then reported the answers to the translator again.
Lee has been deaf all his life. He does not use sign language to communicate because he has learned to read lip in South Korea. The right-handed tennis player relies primarily on hand gestures for the decisions of line judges and referees.
The former number three in the world among the juniors has been a pro since 2013. In recent years, he mainly played Challengers in Asia. In Winston-Salem he is for the first time in a main tournament on the ATP Tour.
Andy Murray. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Murray loses again in the first round
Andy Murray was one of the players who expressed admiration for Lee. "If I had to play with headphones, it would be incredibly difficult to properly estimate the speed or spin of the ball. We use our ears a lot during tennis. It is definitely a big disadvantage to not hear anything , so it's really good what Lee does. "
32-year-old Murray himself lost Monday in the first round in Winston-Salem 7-6 and 7-5 against American Tennys Sandgren.
The former number one in the world, who underwent major hip surgery at the beginning of this year, is still waiting for his first singles win since his return.
The Briton played his first single game in Cincinnati last week since the Australian Open in January. He then lost to Richard Gasquet in the first round.