Break Point (2023) Netflix Docuseries – Part I: If we go through the history of mankind, sports has been one of the oldest forms of entertainment and leisure. Through the mundane numbers of scoring, the unparalleled drama unfolds in each passing moment of the game. Taking the players through a physical and mental roller-coaster journey, sports’ ability to enthrall its audience has never been in doubt. And when you put the imaginative cinematic experience of storytelling on top of that factual drama, you get something magnetic.
Netflix has been able to do this with Formula 1 seasons in their barn burner “Drive to Survive.” In “Break Point,” they continue to do the same for Tennis. With the goal being the same. To garner more interest in the sport and get more fans. For this, “Break Point” covers the past 2022 Tennis season, concentrating on a handful of players. Fans of “Drive to Survive” already know this, but in case you do not, the strategy for this kind of ‘Docudrama’ is to pick a number of players (teams too in the case of “Drive to Survive”) and chronicle their journey of the year. In an intriguingly dramatic storytelling way.
Break Point (2023) Netflix Docuseries – Part I Recap:
The first episode focuses on the supposed ‘bad boy’ of Tennis. The Australian, Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios is probably one of the rare modern Tennis players whose name has transcended the sport’s boundaries. Meaning you probably have heard of him even if you do not follow Tennis. The reason for that is not his skills, which he has plenty, but his controversies. The episode does not shy away from delving into that. But it also provides a side of Kyrgios that even some ardent Tennis followers do not get to see.
It focuses on Kyrgios’s journey in the Australian Open, the opening tournament. From the sporting factual perspective, it concentrates on Nick’s win in the doubles category with his friend and fellow Aussie tennis player, Thanasi Kokkinakis. While also chartering a deeper look at Nick’s lifestyle and the internal pressure he goes through.
Matteo Berrettini and Ajla Tomljanovic
Each subsequent episode features two players’ arcs to build upon. The second one has the then romantically involved couple, Berrettini and Tomljanovic. Berrettini starts by ruing his chance of winning a Wimbledon, and Tomljanovic provides an insight into what it feels like to be outside of the top ten. To be not counted as contenders. Her breakdown after a loss is one of the most natural scenes of this factual but manipulated series. Berrettini’s Australian Open journey’s end at the hands of Rafael Nadal provides the endpoint of this arc. It also provides a peek into the challenges a couple faces when both partners are tennis players with their separate ambitions, schedules, and travel plans.
Taylor Fritz and Maria Sakkari
The third episode takes a time jump and sets the events in Indian Wells, which generally happens in March. Indian Wells is a Masters tournament. Masters are second only(third if you count the Finals that happen at the end of the year) to the four Grand Slams. The episode charts the rise of the American, Taylor Fritz, on the men’s side; and the struggles of Sakkari on the women’s.
Like all players in this series, it provides a basic introduction to each player and then updates on their current status. Both the players didn’t have great successes during that time. This the premise upon which the two stories are told. One of the success, where Fritz beats none other than Nadal to win the Indian Wells Championship. Another where Sakkari falls just one step short. She loses to world number one Iga Swiatek in the final match.
Ons Jabeur and Paula Badosa
The fourth episode has Jabeur and Badosa as the two protagonists and charts their respective journeys. The place of the episode is Madrid. Another Masters tournament. Jabeur’s story of being the first African and Arab woman to win a Masters title provides the glorious underline of this episode. Badosa’s struggle with mental health and another loss in her hometown Madrid is the poignant counter-balance in the episode.
Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud
The fifth episode, titled “King of the Clay,” is a tribute to Rafa Nadal. But it also chronicles the fighting spirits of two of the most hard-working and improved players of last year in the men’s circuit. The location is Roland Garros (French Open). Both Auger-Aliassime and Ruud have a Nadal connection. Their journeys ends at the hands of Nadal, who clinched his record-extending fourteenth French Open.
Although Nadal is not a character whose path is chronicled in this series, his achievements in the first part of last year make him the MVP of this part. In fact, “Break Point” takes full advantage of this opportunity. Nadal’s shadow looms large on most of the stories on the men’s side. The fifth one is dedicated to him. The show respects him as the giant of the sports he is, as one of the GOATs. And it portrays him as the Everest-sized obstacle for all the male protagonists to overcome.
Break Point (2023) Netflix Docuseries – Part I Review:
It is no secret why “Break Point” was sanctioned by the Tennis governing bodies. The household names of Tennis are close to the end of their respective journeys. Roger Federer was injured for a long time when the show started and eventually retired last October. Serena Williams had her unofficial last game at the last US Open. And although both of them are still dominating the men’s circuit, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are not exactly young at their ripe 36 and 35 years of age, respectively. There is a vacuum awaiting the game of Tennis. It has already been noted by the viewership statistics of some recent major tournaments where none of the above-mentioned greats played.
This is where Netflix helped Formula 1 with “Drive to Survive.” The dramatic series has been loved by most, except maybe by the sport’s puritan fans. The same should apply to “Break Point.” The drama created through the clever retelling of the factual events of the sport might rub some up the wrong way. But, with its superb camerawork, the slo-mo actions, and the raw emotions from the players, “Break Point” is likely to fetch new fans for Tennis. And as a Tennis fan, that could not be more welcome.
What to Expect from Break Point Part II?
Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz
The current world number one in the women’s and men’s categories are Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz. And both of them hardly featured in the first part. The series so far moved chronologically. Starting with the Australian Open in January, then to Indian Wells in March, before shifting to Madrid in April and finally ending at French Open in May. Both Iga and Carlos achieved great success in this period. Iga won the French Open, and Carlos won Miami and Madrid (where he beat Djokovic and Nadal back to back).
So, it does feel a bit like a missed opportunity. However, the trailer did feature both of them, so we can expect their arcs to be told in the next part. Alcaraz winning the US Open is definitely going to be featured.
Novak Djokovic Factor
If the first part of the 2022 season belonged to Rafa Nadal, then the second part belonged to Novak Djokovic in the men’s category. Djokovic bouncing back at Wimbledon after the deportation fiasco in Australia is a great story. He finishes the year by winning the ATP finals, which is the last tournament of the season.
Like Rafa, Novak could be portrayed as the immovable object for the characters of “Break Point” in the next part. Especially for Kyrgios, who lost to Novak in the Wimbledon final. The high point of Kyrgios arc.
Roger Federer retired officially last year. After almost two years of struggling with injury, the great Swiss calls it a day at his home exhibition tournament, Laver Cup. He was surrounded by his great rivals, Rafa and Novak. And also the brit, Andy Murray. It was a reunion of the “Big Four” of Tennis.
Although the show is intended to take Tennis away from under the shadow of them, “Break Point” has shown how they do not completely ignore them. So, we could see a segment dedicated to the magician.
The Russian Ban and Others
There are a handful of others who are going to be featured if we go by trailer. Stefanos Tsitsipas would be one of them. However, it is going to be seen if some of the more important players do a feature or not. The blanket ban on anything and everything belonging to Russia have its toll on Tennis too. It would be intriguing to see if “Break Point” addresses that, with Medvedev and Rublev featuring heavily in the controversy last season (Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarussian players).
Among other players, Janik Sinner could be a contender to be showcased. The Italian showed enough mettle to be counted among the contenders of future slam winners. Another exponentially rising youngster is the Danish Holger Rune. He beat Djokovic to win the Paris Masters. On the women’s side, Emma Raducanu should be featured.
Although this is more a wish than a prediction. “Break Point” could use the popularity it would gain to shed a little more light on the otherwise oft-neglected categories of Tennis: the doubles. And perhaps the Wheelchair ones. The 2022 Australian Open saw the retirement of the legendary Wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott. A small segment of the Australian would not be remiss.
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Break Point (2023) Netflix Docuseries – Part I Trailer