Both Hewitt, Federer now behind Pavel
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Looking at the draw sheet for a tournament has become something of a nightmare for Andrei Pavel. Every time, he sees Roger Federer's name.
So don't be surprised if Pavel sends a thank-you gift to Rafael Nadal, who knocked Federer out of the Nasdaq-100 Open on Sunday night with a 6-3, 6-3 victory. Or at least gives him a thumbs up.
Thus far, Pavel has lost just six matches this year
-- four to Federer: Davis Cup in Pavel's home in Romania, in Rotterdam, Dubai and at Indian Wells. Pavel's not even one of the seven players who have managed to force Federer to drop a set this year.
So when Pavel looked at the draw for the Nasdaq-100, there was Federer lurking in a potential quarterfinal match. Pavel says the other players give him a hard time about it.
"But you know, what can I do?" Pavel asked.
How about communicate? Pavel said when he sees Federer in the halls, he good-naturedly salutes him.
"I always go like (this)," he said, smiling as he crosses his arms and flips a double bird, then crossing them the other way for another salute.
"He's a very cool guy," Pavel said. "He laughs."
Pavel defeated former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 7-5. That's despite being awakened by his toddler son and having to find someplace else to sleep at 4 a.m. before playing Hewitt on Sunday afternoon. In the fourth round, he faces American Todd Martin.
Hewitt said Pavel is a "sweet hitter of the ball." Especially, his backhand, which Hewitt described as free-flowing.
"He's able to hit down the line, cross-court. He hits angles very well, and he can attack off it, as well," Hewitt said.
Pavel's only problem has been that a backhand naturally plays right into the Federer forehand. Earlier, Pavel indicated that his only hope was beyond hope -- for Federer to lose early.
"I hope he's getting tired of winning," Pavel said, smiling.
On Sunday night, at least, Federer did.
Cynthia Faulkner is the tennis editor for ESPN.com.
MORE TENNIS HEADLINES
- Djokovic thwarts Federer rally for BNP title
- Pennetta routs Radwanska to win Indian Wells
- Azarenka out of Key Biscayne for foot injury
- St. Louis to host U.S.-France in Fed Cup match