South Korean domination of the ongoing $10,000 ITF Cambodian Futures continued for the second week with 16-year-old Lee Duck Hee winning the GLF Cham Prasidh Open after beating Israel’s Dekel Bar 7-6, 6-4 in the final at the National Tennis Center on Saturday.
Lee followed the winning path charted by his compatriot Lim Yong Kyu, who took out the GLF Open on November 22.
The highly talented Lee, who was born with a hearing impairment, has such intuitive brilliance and feel for the game that he has turned this disadvantage into his strength, making it known that the silence around him would help him out of distractions so that he could keep his focus sharp.
Lee, who took interest in the game after watching Roger Federer on television when he was barely 7, made his racquet speak eloquently on the court. He has done so ever since he came to world’s attention when Rafael Nadal tweeted to his 4.6 million followers about the fast-emerging South Korean phenom earning his first ATP point in 2013.
At the tender age of 8, a year after his father introduced him to tennis, Lee got a chance to hit with Federer, and his touring companions recall that Lee often used to pull out his phone in sheer boyish enthusiasm to show the picture of him with the Swiss legend.
The victory in Phnom Penh was Lee’s second Futures title this year after his triumph in Hong Kong. Through an interpreter said he was very happy to have won.
“Lee’s life and tennis is a great inspiration to all. I congratulate both Lee and Dekel Bar for producing an exciting final,” Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit told the Post.
The unheralded Bar, looking for his maiden singles success, and the eighth seeded Lee emerged as unlikely but deserving finalists after they produced stunning semifinal results on Friday. While Lee got past France’s Johan Sebastien Tatlot 6-2, 6-2, Bar won the battle of the big servers against Germany’s Robin Kern in an anti-climactic scoreline of 6-1, 6-2.
Lee broke Bar early in the first set of the final but the tall and agile Israeli, broke back to steer the first set to an inevitable tie-break. The South Korean reeled off the first three points and missed a fairly simple overhead but that didn’t alter the course a great deal. He played a couple of exquisite points thereafter to wrap up the first set.
The second set was somewhat similar in its substance to the opening stanza. An early break for Lee and a stern fight back from Bar, who took medical time out midway to get attention on a muscle strain. The match was delicately poised at 4-4 when Lee got the critical breakthrough and the rest was a happy ending for the teenager.
In Friday’s doubles final, the German pair of Robin Kern and Sebastian Wagner defeated the Chinese duo of Gao Xin and Ouyang Bowen 3-6, 6-3 (10-5).