Women's 14th seed Maria Sharapova and third-round opponent Julia Goerges had an unexpected delay before their match on Hisense Arena on Friday when the umpire found a dead spot on the court.
The players had warmed up and had just made their way back to their chairs for a final sit down and water break when proceedings were brought to a strange halt.
ESPN played a clip of the problem when Andy Roddick—who had just defeated Robin Haase on the same court—was conducting a post-match in-studio interview. The video showed the chair umpire dropping a normal tennis ball on the spot, which was roughly a foot from the net inside the deuce court.
The ball hit the court and...nothing. No bounce, no movement, no reaction. No wonder she just shrugged her shoulders.
Three men in white shirts, suit trousers and ties, presumably tournament staff masquerading as repair men, appeared a few minutes later. The one armed with a power drill then made two surgical incisions into the court and, as if by magic, the problem was fixed.
From what the commentators were saying, it appears that an air bubble had appeared an inch below the surface of the plexicushion surface, killing the ball on impact.
I've never seen this happen at a major tournament before, let alone a Grand Slam, but it got a few laughs from everyone in attendance.
It also bemused Roddick who, after watching a video of the makeshift repair work, looked stunned that 1) a problem like this existed on the same court he had just left and 2) that punching two holes into the floor with a battery-powered drill was the solution.
After Agnieszka Radwanska's racket malfunction on Day Three, and now this minor interruption, what's going to happen next? All of a sudden, the scorching heat Down Under is the least of players' problems.
Maybe they should have left the dead spot for Sharapova...it looked like she needed all the help she could get after her service problems ran into yet another match.