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Lee Hyung-tack Shot Down World`s Number 10 Roddick

Posted January. 08, 2003 23:01,   


Thrilling victory at 6th trial.

Andy Roddick (21, USA) has been the natural enemy of Lee Hyung-tack (27, Samsung Securities), the top Korean tennis star. For his relatively short history of past two years of ATP Tour, Lee faced Roddick 5 times without winning a game over him. Lee, however, finally broke down the high wall.

It happened yesterday in the men`s singles quarterfinal of ATP Tour Adidas International (total prize money: $380,000) held in Sydney, Australia. Lee, who stands only at 84th on the international ranking, finally succeeded in breaking down in 2 hours and 15 minutes the uncollapsible international wall of Roddick ranked at 10th. Lee shut out the match by winning two sets without losing any (7-6, 7-5). For the second consecutive year, he also succeeded in advancing to the semifinal of the Adidas International.

This is the first time for Lee to topple one of the top ten players in the world. Other than this, Lee beat an Argentine player who ranked at 11th in the second round of the 2000 US Open.

Lee exhilarated, "I couldn`t find any word describing what I feel now. I just ignored who I was playing against, keeping myself concentrated on the game itself. I took on the offensive, and I guess that worked."

After barely winning the first set in the tie break 7-6, Lee got off to an unstable start in the second set. He lost three in a row. He, however, used bold serves and volleys, along with powerful strokes, and succeeded in narrowing the gap. Then, he tied up the set 5-5. Finally, he won 2 games in a row, winning the match.

This day, fortune also played a role in Lee`s victory. Roddick used to lead games with his thundering serves hovering around 210km. With heavy rain and strong wind, he could not perform his best serves and had a hard time exercising powerful strokes.

Lee will take on Marat Safin (22, Russia) in the semifinal scheduled for January 9. Safin once topped the world ranking, and now stands at 3rd. A handsome man standing 193m (or approximately 6`4"), Safin has won 11 championships in major games like US Open. The upcoming match is not tipped toward Safin as might be expected since Lee is on the rise, while Safin is suffering from injury, predicts Joo won-hong, the coach of Samsung Securities.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com