Hanfmann quit football with hearing issues but plays tennis without hearing aid

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Yannick Hanfmann quit football as a child due to problems hearing his team-mates and coaches. But on Tuesday, the German reached the French Open second round for the first time in his career without wearing a hearing aid. 

Hanfmann is hearing-impaired, a condition he has had since birth. The 31-year-old wears a hearing device off the court but chooses to take it off when he plays so as not to be overawed by the cacophony of noise. 

Having reached a career-high World No 64 ranking in May, Hanfmann has enjoyed an excellent start at Roland Garros. In a thrilling five-setter, he defeated Brazilian Thiago Monteiro to emerge from the first round. 

Hanfmann had originally been defeated during the qualifying rounds but was handed a lucky loser spot after Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi pulled out of the tournament. A powerful server, Hanfmann is now into the second round for the first time having played without a hearing aid. 

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He has explained that it would have been ‘too much’ to play with the device fitted. Hanfmann told SID news agency: “That would have been too much today – system overload.”

However, the story could have been so different for Hanfmann. An aspiring professional footballer as a child, he was forced to quit the sport over his inability to hear his colleagues. 

Hanfmann has opened up on the difference between being unable to hear in tennis and football. The Karlsruhe-born star says that simply being able to see his opponent across the net makes his disability ‘simpler’ to play with. 

He explained: “At some point, I stopped hearing my team-mates shouting and the coaches’ commands. It is completely different in tennis, where I see my opponents. That simplifies the whole thing.”

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Hanfmann has enjoyed an excellent few years and now hopes to go far in Paris. In 2022, he made the second round of the Australian Open where he was beaten by the eventual winner Rafael Nadal. 

In May, Hanfmann made the quarter-final of the Italian Open in a run that saw him defeat Taylor Fritz and Andrey Rublev. Daniil Medvedev proved too tough a last-four opponent, but Hanfmann has been pleased with his progress. 

He continued: “I think I’m riding a little bit of a wave. I hope I can ride it as far as I can.” 

Hanfmann could meet Fritz once again should he defeat Argentine Francisco Cerundolo in Tuesday’s second-round tie. Fritz must overcome Arthur Rinderknech. 

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