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Lee Duck-hee becomes first deaf player to win ATP Tour main draw match

Lee makes his debut at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina. Credit: ATP

Lee Duck-hee has made history by becoming the first deaf player to win a main-draw ATP Tour match.

The 21-year-old, who is ranked 212th in the world, beat Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen 7-6, 6-1 at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina.

In a post match interview, Lee told ATP: "People made fun of me for my disability. They told me I shouldn't be playing.

"I wanted to show everyone that I could do this."

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Lee added: "My message for people who are hearing impaired is to not be discouraged. If you try hard, you can do anything."

The South Korean player was diagnosed as deaf at the age of two and communicates through lip-reading rather than sign language.

Lee is able to understand the official's calls on court through signals and gestures as he can't hear the score announcements.

He also keeps track of points and games in his head which can often be more difficult in smaller events that don't have courtside scoreboards.

Andy Murray is among players to have spoken in support of Lee, adding it is "unbelievably difficult" to play without being able to hear the speed of the ball.

The former world number one said Lee is 'doing a huge effort'. Credit: AP

The former world number one told ATP: "If I was to play with headphones on, it’s unbelievably difficult to pick up the speed of the ball, the spin that’s coming off the racquet… We use our ears a lot to pick things up,"

He added: "It’s obviously a huge disadvantage, so to be able to do what he’s doing is a huge effort."

Lee played his first ATP Challenger Tour event aged 14 and has remained at that level for the past four years.

He will next play third seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round of the tournament.