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Lee makes history as first deaf player to win ATP Tour main draw match

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

South Korea’s Lee Duck-hee has become the first deaf player to win a match in the main draw of a tournament on the ATP Tour.

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.

“People made fun of me for my disability. They told me I shouldn’t be playing,” said Lee.

“I wanted to show everyone that I could do this.”

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

Lee does not communicate with sign language but instead uses lip-reading.

During his post-match interview his fiancee Soopin assisted him, clarifying answers for reporters in English.

Britain’s Andy Murray is among players to have come out in support of Lee, adding it must be “difficult” to play without being able to “pick up the speed of the ball” by hearing the sound.

“It’s obviously a huge disadvantage, so to be able to do what he’s doing is a huge effort,” said the 32-year-old, who lost in the first round in North Carolina as he continues his return to singles action after injury.

“We [tennis players] use our ears a lot to pick things up.”

Lee, who faces third seed Hubert Hurkacz in the next round, played his first ATP Challenger Tour event aged 14.

He played mainly in Asia before switching to hard courts in the US, reaching his first final in three years at Little Rock in June.

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Sandgren Downs Murray In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Sandgren Downs Murray In Winston-Salem

Scot showed improvement from beginning of his comeback last week

Andy Murray isn’t one for moral victories, but the Scot should be encouraged by his first-round match at the Winston-Salem Open, even if it ended in a loss.

American Tennys Sandgren beat Murray 7-6(8), 7-5 to advance to the second round at the ATP 250 tournament. Sandgren fought through a marathon 75-minute first set, but was broken while serving for the match at 5-4. Sandgren, however, broke right back and served it out on his second attempt.

“It was a great atmosphere. Everyone was super excited. Obviously, Andy, his career speaks for itself, so to have him here and playing and to be able to compete against him tonight was a pleasure,” Sandgren said. “The match itself was really close. The first set could have gone either way and to come out with it was a big relief… It was a tight two-set match, long and physical and I’m happy to come through.”

Murray was playing in only his second singles match since January at the Australian Open. After undergoing right hip surgery on 28 January, he began his singles comeback last week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, falling to eventual semi-finalist Richard Gasquet in the first round.

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While both matches ended in defeat, Murray showed vast improvement against Sandgren. Gone were the tentative groundstrokes that dominated rallies against the crafty Gasquet, and Murray, who occasionally let balls go against the Frenchman, chased down everything he could and charged forward often against Sandgren. The American, however, was more than happy to pass Murray on the run and on the stretch.

“Some things were a bit better today I think. I was hitting the ball a bit cleaner than I did maybe in Cincinnati… I feel like I moved fairly well to some drop shots, which maybe last week I wasn’t running to. So there’s some good things in there but also some stuff I would like to do better,” Murray said. “Physically, [I feel] OK considering, no pain, no discomfort. Just a little bit more tired than usual.”

Murray, who accepted a late wild card, said he didn’t fear losing during the initial stages of his comeback. 

“I’m quite aware of sort of where I’m at just now and what my level is. It’s competitive at this level but it needs to be better,” Murray said. “Maybe I need play a level down to get some matches and build my game up a little bit before I start playing on the Tour again.”

Murray will not compete at next week’s US Open and is considering playing an ATP Challenger Tour event before heading to Asia for the tour-level swing there.

You May Also Like: Duckhee Lee Breaks Ground For Deaf Athletes In Winston-Salem
Sandgren, No. 73 in the ATP Rankings, will next meet meet second seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada. In other action during a rain-soaked day of play, Duckhee Lee became the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour match, beating Swiss Henri Laaksonen 7-6(4), 6-1. Lee will next face third seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

Spain’s Pablo Andujar beat Chilean Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-2 and will face countryman Feliciano Lopez, the 16th seed, for a place in the third round. Aussie Alexei Popyrin set up a #NextGenATP battle with Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic by beating Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(7). And American Bjorn Fratangelo was perfect against Israeli Amir Weintraub, advancing 6-0, 6-0 and will next meet #NextGenATP Frenchman Ugo Humbert, the 15th seed.

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Duckhee Lee Breaks Ground For Deaf Athletes In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Duckhee Lee Breaks Ground For Deaf Athletes In Winston-Salem

South Korean beats Laaksonen to make history

Trailblazing South Korean Duckhee Lee has defied the odds throughout his life. The 21-year-old broke new ground once again on Monday by becoming the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour main draw match.

Lee beat Swiss Henri Laaksonen 7-6(4), 6-1 at the Winston-Salem Open after a lengthy rain delay. The South Korean, No. 212 in the ATP Rankings, won the final three points of the first-set tie-break and broke twice in the second set to prevail.

Read: Lee Overcomes Disability To Succeed (July 2015)

More to follow…


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Chung Marches On, Kwon Battles Through In US Open Qualifying

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Chung Marches On, Kwon Battles Through In US Open Qualifying

Mahut begins pursuit of 14th main draw at Flushing Meadows

Last January, 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung made his biggest breakthrough yet by reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open. When the US Open rolled around, he was No. 23 in the ATP Rankings, making him a seeded player in the main draw of the US Open.

But on Monday, World No. 151 Chung had to compete in the first round of qualifying in Flushing Meadows, where he rolled past Austrian Sebastian Ofner 6-3, 6-3 in 74 minutes.

Chung missed five months of the season due to a back injury, and he has played just three events since February, all of which have come on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 23-year-old will next play Italian Stefano Napolitano, who advanced past American Sam Riffice 6-2, 6-4 after one hour and 22 minutes.

You May Also Like: Chung Kicks Off Comeback With Chengdu Crown

Third seed Soonwoo Kwon overcame a brief rain delay and American JC Aragone, moving into the second round with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 triumph. Play was suspended at 2-2 in the third set as both men battled on a humid day, but it was Kwon who finished stronger, breaking to win the match.

“It was actually beneficial for me for being able to recover after the rain, so it was actually fortunate for me to have it,” Kwon said.

Kwon cracked the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on 5 August, and he currently sits at a career-high No. 90. The 21-year-old lost in the first round of qualifying in New York last year, which was his debut at this tournament.

“The only pressure that I have is I really want to get into the main draw and that’s my only goal for now,” Kwon said.

Read: Five Things To Know About Kwon

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, who defeated Kwon in qualifying in 2018, rallied to beat American wild card Maxime Cressy 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes.

The 37-year-old has made at least the second round of the main draw here in each of the past four years. Mahut is trying to earn a spot in the US Open main draw for the 14th time.

There were four final-set tie-breaks on the first day of action in Flushing Meadows, with Czech Zdenek Kolar beating American Michael Mmoh 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), eighth seed Gregoire Barrere outlasting Australian Andrew Harris 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(3), ninth seed Mikael Ymer battling past American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(2) and No. 10 seed Tommy Paul ousting German Yannick Hanfmann 4-6, 6-5, 7-6(3).

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'I wanted to go a different way' – Evans splits with coach over 'differences'

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Dan Evans says his surprise decision to split with coach David Felgate was because the pair started to see “a few things differently”.

The British number two informed Felgate of his decision at the start of August, a few days after losing in the first round of the ATP event in Washington.

Evans enjoyed an excellent grass-court season, culminating in a third-round defeat to Joao Sousa at Wimbledon.

In February he reached his second ATP final in Delray Beach.

“I saw a few things different, I think, to the way he saw it,” Evans told BBC Sport at the Winston-Salem Open.

“At the end of the day I’m on the court, and it’s how I felt.

“It was amicable, no hard feelings. I sat down and said it was going to come to an end, and that was that.

“I wanted to go a different way and try something new. I’ve never had to do that before. It was not an easy conversation but it was better for me to say it there and then than carry on until the end of this trip, and waste this trip.

“I sort of felt that way as soon as I came back and we started again after Wimbledon. Maybe I lost my spark with him, but it just didn’t feel right, and I thought it needed to change.”

Evans and Felgate started working together after last year’s Wimbledon. The British Davis Cup player was outside the top 300 at the time, as he fought his way back from a doping ban, but now stands at 58 in the world.

Evans says he wants to play more aggressively in future, and will try to come forward towards the net, a little more.

“I thought, over the grass, I was pretty defensive and not really putting my game out there. I felt it was time for a new start – to make that change, and to play that way,” the 29 year old added.

The former British player Joshua Milton, who now coaches in San Diego, is assisting Evans in Winston-Salem this week. As the fifth seed, Evans was given a first-round bye and will play his second-round match on Tuesday.

Evans said he does not yet know who he will work with in future, but says Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith has agreed to help out where he can during the US Open, which begins on Monday.

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US Open 2019: British number four Naiktha Bains loses in first round of qualifying

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

British number four Naiktha Bains has lost in the first round of qualifying for the US Open.

Bains, 21, was well beaten 6-3 6-1 by Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova in New York as she tried to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time.

The Briton struggled to get any power on her serve, leaving her open to breaks and the Slovak capitalised.

World number 237 Bains is a dual British and Australian citizen and changed her allegiance this year.

On Tuesday, former British number one Heather Watson will be in action against Georgia’s Mariam Bolkvadze and James Ward will take on China’s Zhe Li as they get their US Open qualifying campaign under way.

The tournament itself begins at Flushing Meadows on 26 August.

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Medvedev Breaks Into Top 5, Mover Of The Week

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Medvedev Breaks Into Top 5, Mover Of The Week looks at the top Movers of the Week in the ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 19 August 2019

No. 5 (Career High) Daniil Medvedev, +3
Competing in his third final in as many weeks, the 23-year-old claimed his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open. Medvedev, who finished as runner-up at the Citi Open and Coupe Rogers, dropped one set en route to the trophy with wins against Kyle Edmund, Benoit Paire, Jan-Lennard Struff, Andrey Rublev, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and David Goffin.

The Russian now leads the ATP Tour with 44 victories this season, three wins ahead of Coupe Rogers champion and ATP Race To London leader Rafael Nadal. After becoming the fifth player from his country to lift a Masters 1000 trophy, Medvedev jumps to a career-high No. 5 in the ATP Rankings. Read More and Watch Highlights.

No. 10 (Career High) Roberto Bautista Agut, +1
The Spaniard advanced to his third Masters 1000 quarter-final of the year in Cincinnati. Bautista Agut defeated Hubert Hurkacz and Next Gen ATP Finals contenders Frances Tiafoe and Miomir Kecmanovic to reach the last eight in Ohio, before falling to Richard Gasquet in three sets. Bautista Agut becomes the 19th Spaniard to reach the Top 10 in ATP Rankings history (since 1973).

You May Also Like: Bautista Agut Makes Top 10 Debut

Spaniards To Reach The Top 10 Of The ATP Rankings

Player Career-High ATP Ranking Date Achieved
Carlos Moya 1 15 March 1999
Juan Carlos Ferrero 1 8 September 2003
Rafael Nadal 1 18 August 2008
Manuel Orantes 2 23 August 1973
Alex Corretja 2 1 February 1999
Sergi Bruguera 3 1 August 1994
David Ferrer 3 8 July 2013
Tommy Robredo 5 28 August 2006
Jose Higueras 6 13 June 1983
Albert Costa 6 22 July 2002
Juan Aguilera 7 17 September 1984
Emilio Sanchez 7 30 April 1990
Alberto Berasategui 7 14 November 1994
Fernando Verdasco 7 20 April 2009
Nicolas Almagro 9 2 May 2011
Carlos Costa 10 18 May 1992
Felix Mantilla 10 8 June 1998
Pablo Carreno Busta 10 11 September 2017
Roberto Bautista Agut 10 19 August 2019

No. 15 David Goffin, +4
The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up advanced to his first Masters 1000 championship match in Cincinnati. After beating Taylor Fritz, Guido Pella and Adrian Mannarino to reach his fifth Masters 1000 semi-final, the Belgian overcame Gasquet to break through to his first final at the level. Despite his loss to Medvedev, Goffin climbs four positions to No. 15 in the ATP Rankings.

No. 34 Richard Gasquet, +22
Gasquet reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final in more than six years in Cincinnati. The Frenchman, whose last final-four appearance at the level came at the 2013 Miami Open presented by Itau, beat Andy Murray, Federico Delbonis, Diego Schwartzman and Bautista Agut to claim his place in the semi-finals, where he fell to Goffin in straight sets. Gasquet soars 22 places to No. 34 in the ATP Rankings.

Other Notable Movers
No. 47 Andrey Rublev, +23
No. 49 (Career High) Miomir Kecmanovic, +9
No. 58 Daniel Evans, -14
No. 59 Yoshihito Nishioka, +18
No. 64 Pablo Carreno Busta, -11
No. 80 Aljaz Bedene, +10
No. 93 Leonardo Mayer, -11
No. 96 Marius Copil, -11

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Bautista Agut Makes Top 10 Debut

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Bautista Agut Makes Top 10 Debut

Spaniard enjoying career-best season

Good things come to those who wait. After 14 years on the ATP Tour, Roberto Bautista Agut has fulfilled his childhood dream by debuting in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings on Monday.

“It’s great to be there. There’s a lot of work behind that,” said Bautista Agut. “I’ve been dreaming of this since I was young, so I’m very happy.”

Bautista Agut has reached the highest levels of the sport by being consistently consistent, advancing to at least the quarter-finals in 11 of his 17 ATP Tour events this season. With those results as a base, the Spaniard also piled on outstanding results that include his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, defeating Novak Djokovic en route to the title in Doha (d. Berdych) and a quarter-final finish at the Australian Open.

“I’ve been close to the Top 10 for a few years now, but sometimes you need just one or two more good results than you had in the past years,” said Bautista Agut. “I fought really hard to get the Top 10 with every tournament.”

You May Also Like: How Roberto Bautista Agut Is Reaching New Heights

The 32-year-old’s tenacity has earned him the respect of his peers on Tour. Many of them celebrated the news of his Top 10 status as a testament to hard work paying off.

“I’m really happy for him. He’s such a nice guy and deserves to be in the Top 10 this year,” said David Goffin. “He’s played unbelievably in all of the big events this year. He’s a great fighter, is really strong physically and continues to improve his tennis.”

“He doesn’t miss, runs well and has no weakness in his game. He’s a tough competitor,” added Richard Gasquet. “It’s always a battle when you play against him. You need to play your best tennis to win against a guy like him.”

But typical to his character, Bautista Agut is already focused on knocking down his next goal. He now looks to make his debut at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held at The 02 in London from 10-17 November. The Spaniard is currently in seventh place in the ATP Race to London.

“It would be good news for me to have the opportunity to play the [year-end] Masters,” Bautista Agut told in July. “But now, it’s still far. It’s still three or four months of the season [left] and I have to win a lot of matches and to play very good tennis if I want to be there.”

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Berdych, Harris Advance On Day One In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Berdych, Harris Advance On Day One In Winston-Salem

Czech made the 2012 WInston-Salem final

Tomas Berdych won his first tour-level match since February on Sunday at the Winston-Salem Open, beating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The former World No. 4, a wild-card entry into the ATP 250 tournament, last won at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“It was a tough match. It was a great start for me but then I still knew that it’s not going to go like that all the way,” Berdych said. “When you don’t play for a long time, it’s not easy. You really have to battle out for every single point, which I did today.”

You May Also Like: Berdych: ‘It’s Been A Very Tough Time For Me’

The Czech started the year 10-3, reaching the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final and the fourth round of the Australian Open. But injury woes have kept the 33-year-old from regular action. He’s played only one match – a first-round loss to American Taylor Fritz at Wimbledon – since March. Berdych will next meet eighth seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.

Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran will meet top seed Benoit Paire after beating Gstaad finalist Cedrik Marcel-Stebe 6-3, 6-4. In other action, Romanian Marius Copil fought past Slovakian Martin Klizan 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and will next face 11th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

Dutchman Robin Haase swept American Denis Kudla 6-4, 7-6(3) and will meet fourth seed Joao Sousa in the second round. South African Lloyd Harris ran away with his first-round match against Spain’s Jaume Munar 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1, and 12th seed Casper Ruud of Norway awaits Harris in the second round.

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Tiafoe Inspires Young Essay Winners In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Tiafoe Inspires Young Essay Winners In Winston-Salem

American leads Q&A and autograph session on Sunday 

Frances Tiafoe is all about giving back. The #NextGenATP American regularly puts his hands up for kids’ clinics and autograph sessions whenever he competes at ATP Tour events.

He did just that on Sunday at the Winston-Salem Open, holding a Q&A and autograph session with several kids ages 11-17. The children were all part of National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters throughout the Southern section of the United States Tennis Association and were selected to meet Tiafoe by winning an essay contest.

You May Also Like: Tiafoe Lives For The Biggest Moment

Tiafoe told the participants he has “a ton of big of aspirations after tennis” that involve working with kids, including starting his own foundation.

”To know that what I’m doing is helping not only myself and my family, but also you guys coming up… everyone has somebody that they aspire to be like and I want to be that guy for you all,” said Tiafoe.

The 21-year-old Tiafoe, seeded No. 10 in Winston-Salem, starts his week on Tuesday against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy or American qualifier Raymond Sarmiento.

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