Moisture, heat creates bubble in court surface

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MELBOURNE, Australia --- Umpire Kerrilyn Cramer dropped a ball on a spot on the second show court at the Australian Open -- and it didn't bounce.

Cramer lifted her arms in a shrug to the crowd and walked off the court.

Maria Sharapova said she had noticed something weird on the spot as she warmed up Friday for her third-round match against Julia Goerges. At first, she thought the cushioning in her left shoe was behaving oddly or that some extra padding had somehow been added to the court.

"All of a sudden I looked down and there was a pretty big bubble there," Sharapova said. "I mentioned it to the umpire and she said she would make the call."

After much discussion, tournament officials called in a technician with a cordless power drill to put a couple of holes in the rubberized surface. Problem solved, the match went on.

Moisture from recent rains had gathered under the court's Plexicushion layer had evaporated as temperatures rose and caused a pocket of vapor that lifted part of the surface.

EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES: Roger Federer, one of the world's richest athletes, says he's embarrassed by the amount of money he earns.

The Swiss champion has officially collected $61,060,358 in prize money since turning professional in 1998 -- more than any other player in the game.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion was asked by a journalist Friday if he was ever embarrassed by all the money that he makes.

"Yeah, sure," Federer replied. "I never expected myself to earn so much money."

DOUBLES HISTORY: The Bryan brothers say that breaking the long-standing record for the most men's doubles titles last year was a weight off their minds.

The 32-year-old American twins have been the top-ranked doubles pair for the past six years and have nine Grand Slam titles in a decade on the ATP tour. But it was only last August that they surpassed the 61 tour-level titles that Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge collected until Woodforde retired in 2000, and finished the year with 67.

"It feels like a weight has been lifted now that we have the record -- a little bit of history," said Mike Bryan .

His brother added: "Yeah, something to put on our resume."


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