January 21, 2011
While warming up for her third-round Australian Open match, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova noticed a bouncy spot on the court. "It was a little bit strange," she said. "I thought Nike had put some extra cushioning in my shoes!"
The chair umpire came out to inspect the area and tried to bounce a ball on the spot. The result has to be seen to be believed:
The ball doesn't bounce at all! It's completely absorbed by the court. There's no upward movement at all. I just tried dropping a tennis ball on a soft pillow and there was at least a little. That one simply died, like it was caught by one of those velcro paddles you see people playing with on the beach.
[More crazy playing fields: HS football team plays on neon red turf]
What happened is that the stifling temperatures in Melbourne caused a heat bubble filled with air to form under the surface of the court. It's the same concept that causes crust bubbles to develop on edges of pizza slices. As the Mirror reported, workers came out and drilled two small holes in the court, which let out the air. Order, and gravity, was restored.
Sharapova went on to win the match, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round.
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