Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, 1 December 2016 | Joe Liu

South Korean Duckhee Lee, 18, has beaten China’s Qi Xi in the opening around of the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off in Zhuhai, China.

Lee is ranked 143rd and is the No.2 seed in the tournament – but what draws people’s attention the most is the fact that Lee was born deaf.

The teenager relies instead on his eyes to closely watch his opponent’s backswing, rather than hearing the sound of the ball, to read shots from his opponents.

Lee started quickly against Qi, building a 4-1 lead with two breaks. Yet after Lee took the first set, Qi was able to step in the court in the second set and dictate more.

Lee showed some frustration with increasing unforced errors; Qi seized the opportunity and broke in the ninth game, before staving off five break points in the 10th game to send the match into a third.

Lee calmed himself down, and made Qi run more en route to a 4-1 lead.

He sealed a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win after Qi hit a forehand long.

In 2016, Lee travelled to Melbourne Park for the first time in his career but lost in the first round of qualifying. Since then, he has improved his ranking by playing mostly ATP Challenger tournaments throughout Asia. In addition to a runner-up result in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in September, Lee also made semifinals in Pune, India and Kobe, Japan within the last month.

“We really want to make main draw in a Grand Slam next year, especially the Australian Open,” said Chung-hyo Woo, Lee’s cousin and coach.

“His ranking is enough to play qualifying, but here (in Zhuhai) offers a good chance to get a direct entry with the wildcard. But the competition is very strong, every player has their chances too.”

In women’s first-round results, China’s Lu Jing Jing – the highest-ranked local to enter the wildcard play-off – thrashed Singapore’s Stefanie Tan 6-1 6-2.

“I have been struggling with the lower back injury for over two months now, didn’t play much after losing the US Open qualifying first round. I feel like it still affects my movement on the court,” said Lu.

“But I will give my best try to win this tournament; after all, getting the wildcard and playing main draw in the Australian Open is everyone’s goal this week.”

Another Chinese player, You Xiaodi, upset No.4 seed Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan.

You lead 6-1 3-0 before Sharipova fought back, but You eventually sealed a 6-1 5-7 6-1 victory.

For live streaming, live scores, event draws and all other information, visit our AO Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off page.