Now 30, Pavel is defying the odds by improving with age.
World ranking: 22
French Open best:
2001: 1st round
The Romanian turned professional 14 years ago and reached his first ATP semi-final in 1996 before winning his first title in 1998.
In 2001 he caused an upset by capturing the Masters title in Montreal and a year later he improved his best ever year-end ranking to 26 after a quarter-final appearance at the French Open.
When on song, Pavel is lethal from the baseline and a joy to watch - as he proved when he bounced back from an injury-hit season to reach the Paris Masters final last year, falling to Tim Henman.
He has kept up that good form this season, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, the quarter-finals at the Miami Masters and the semi-finals in Houston - all on hard courts.
His displays on clay have been good enough to suggest he could be a danger at Roland Garros - beating Lleyton Hewitt on his way to the Rome fourth round and gaining revenge on Henman in Hamburg.