The New Netflix Sports Documentary Showcases Rising Talent
A Quick TV Review
Released just ahead of this year's Australian Open, Netflix's Break Point is the next multi-part documentary billed to bring the drama of everyday professional sports - ATP and WTA Tours tennis - to the masses.
We get glimpses of the day-to-day drudgery of the sport, ice baths, drug tests, travel, debriefs with loved ones and entourages. Moments of slight behind-the-scenes intimacy - pausing a workout to watch another Nick Kyrgios meltdown or seeing Frances Tiafoe react in realtime to the news of Novak Djokovic's 2021 Australian Open disqualification saga, or even seeing Maria Sakkari simply enjoy a coffee - are refreshing reminders that players are of this world.
It's an engaging series, beautifully and patiently shot, and helpfully framed by past tennis greats, including Andy Roddick, Chris Evert, and Maria Sharapova, as well as experts such as Courtney Nguyen, whose comments serve to contextualize the on-court scenes and competition. But it's the comments from the players themselves - Taylor Fritz insisting on playing injured or Paula Badosa reflecting on her mental health, for example - that make this show worthwhile.
Part I's five chronological episodes focal points are mercurial Kyrgios' run in doubles with Thanasi Kokkinakis at the 2022 Australian Open, power couple Matteo Berrettini's and Ajla Tomljanovic's different experiences at that same Open, Fritz's and Sakkari's breakthroughs at the 2022 Indian Wells, Badosa and Ons Jabeur contending at the Madrid Open, and Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud facing Rafael Nadal at the French Open. (Watching the in-tunnel warmup contrast between Ruud and Nadal is oddly fascinating...)
Netflix promises a second part of this season with additional episodes to be released over the summer, which will cover the remainder of 2022, Wimbledon and on (with additional featured players?). Let's also hope the 'Netflix Curse' that some part I stars drop out of this year's Australian Open doesn't strike Part II's featured players at that time!
And make sure to check out Games and Rings' looks at other Olympic-related shows, films, and books under the A Quick Review tag.