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For starters, you know you're kind of a big deal when a country honors you with a postage stamp that has your mug on it. What's that you say? That country is North Korea? Well, then, you're pretty much entering Dos Equis-man territory: one of the baddest men ever.
Such is the case of Ivan Lendl, who, in 1986, had bestowed upon him by the "Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea" (see: North Korea), a postage stamp in his honor.
Lendl is an incredible 53-12 at the French Open, highlighted by three wins in the 1980s that began with a victory in the final against Hall of Famer John McEnroe in 1984. Only two other players have held the No. 1 spot longer than Lendl's 270 weeks: Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. Not bad company.
It's as if you can still hear the echoes of ghosts from his native Czechoslovakia still whispering, "Lendl, so hot right now."
Considered by many to be the grandfather of "power tennis," Lendl's game was all about topspin, which is what allowed him to dominate from the baseline on clay.
But perhaps his most memorable match on clay wasn't the one in which he won, but the one in which he served as a distraction to dramatic events taking place off the court.
Lendl played in the French Open final against Michael Chang on June 5 1989, one day after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Chang went on to win the match, which lasted almost five hours, and at 17 years old, became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam.
But Chang told Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times in 2009 that what he remembers most was how he and Lendl became a welcome distraction for spectators in China:
"A lot of people forget that Tiananmen Square was going on," Chang says of the 1989 civilian protests in Beijing that were quelled by military gunfire, resulting in more than 100 deaths. "The crackdown that happened was on the middle Sunday at the French Open, so if I was not practicing or playing a match, I was glued to the television, watching the events unfold...
"I often tell people I think it was God's purpose for me to be able to win the French Open the way it was won because I was able to put a smile on Chinese people's faces around the world at a time when there wasn't much to smile about."
And when the match was over, Chang had nothing but praise for Lendl: "He walked straight up to me, stuck out his hand and said, 'Congratulations. Great job at the French Open.' "
A proven winner on clay and gracious in defeat. Give this man a stamp.