© Tuxin Chengdu

Duckhee Lee (centro) celebra las semifinales que alcanzó en Chengdu con su preparador físico (izquierda) y su entrenador (derecha).

Lee Breaks Through Barriers In Chengdu

The teenager will reach a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking on Monday

Nearly a decade after Hyung-Taik Lee became the first Korean player to reach the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, Duckhee Lee appears ready to soon do the same.

The 18 year old posted the best result of his young career by reaching the semi-finals of the $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Chengdu, China. On Thursday, he ousted fellow teenager local favourite and fellow teenager Fajing Sun in the quarter-finals, 6-4, 6-4.

Lee also reached the semi-finals of the Challenger held last June in Fergana, Uzbekistan. His strong results this summer are an admittedly stark contrast from last year, when he underwent a steep learning curve as he got used to competing against world-class players.

“I played Challengers last year and felt like it was too tough,” he admitted. “I’m up against players who are working hard and not making any mistakes. But I said to myself that I can do it.”

Lee’s accomplishments are even more impressive because he was born deaf. Although he can hear vibrations, he relies completely on hand gestures and the scoreboard because he can’t hear line calls or the umpire call out the score.

But ironically, not being able to hear most things actually serves as a benefit on the court for Lee because he can block out most distractions.

“My hearing difficulty does help me to focus on my own play and match,” he said to ATPWorldTour.com in July 2015.

Lee’s goal for 2016 is to finish inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, but he has much loftier ambitions for the rest of his career.

“I want to be the top player in Asia like Kei Nishikori,” said Lee. “But I like Nishikori, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer. I can’t pick just one.”