The first five episodes of the Netflix tennis docuseries BREAK POINT will be released on Friday January 13. Part 2 (episodes 6-10) will be released in June 2023. Below is the official synopsis of BREAK POINT part 1, our review follows:
From the team behind F1: Drive to Survive, BREAK POINT follows a select group of top tennis players on and off the court as they compete in grueling Grand Slams and tournaments all over the world. Their dream: lifting a trophy and becoming number one. As some of tennis’ legends reach the twilight of their careers, this is the chance for a new generation to claim the spotlight. Break Point gets up close and personal with these players over a year competing across the globe in the ATP and WTA tours. From career-threatening injuries and emotional heartbreak, to triumphant victories and personal moments off the court, viewers will get a behind the scenes look at the pressure-tested lives of some of the best tennis players in the world.
The players included in the documentary series include Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka, Maria Sakkari, Sloane Stephens, Iga Swiatek, Ajla Tomljanovic, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Matteo Berrettini, Taylor Fritz, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Nick Kyrgios, Casper Ruud, Frances Tiafoe and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Not all of these players are featured in part 1, presumably they are in part 2 to come later this year.
I haven’t seen F1: Drive to Survive but I can see why this format works and why that series was so popular. You don’t have to be a tennis fan to watch BREAK POINT, they do a good job of explaining the basics of scoring and the importance of the grand slams compared to the rest of the tour. It is aimed at the non-tennis fan rather than hardcore fans. It has to over explain some things in order to appeal to a wide audience. There is a focus on the largest tournaments and no effort is made to explain the rather other complicated tennis tour structure.
BREAK POINT relies a lot on the talking head format, with current and former players as well as coaches appearing on screen often. The highlights of the matches are well edited and presented in as tense a way as possible. There are some scenes showing players after wins and losses that show the highs and lows of being a professional athlete. Episode 2 featuring Berrettini and Tomljanovic is really good at this (the mess in their hotel room is something else though). The behind-the-scenes footage showing the players away from the court was the most interesting to me.
The tennis season is ridiculously long, about 10 to 11 months of the year. Ten episodes isn’t enough to follow that much tennis, especially with the number of players who are followed by the documentary. They need a lot more episodes to adequately cover the season but this should be enough to get more people watching tennis.
They chose good players to follow, many of them had career years. The focus of the docuseries is how the tour is moving forward as we get to the end of the Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Williams sisters era. Nadal being so dominant in the first half of the season kind of ruins that set up, it feels like it is missing a Nadal interview or two.
There are some important topics covered in BREAK POINT, in particular in episode 4 with Badosa and Jabeur. Mental health, women coming back after having kids and women getting paid less than men are some of the subjects mentioned. However, they can’t discuss them in enough detail due to the length of the episodes (about 50 minutes) and the limited number of episodes in the series. It’s a shame that side of things couldn’t be dealt with more in-depth.
BREAK POINT is an enjoyable watch that can be easily binged. It is a fairly straightforward setup (with an unimaginative title) but it is very well executed. Hardcore tennis fans may find the match recaps a little simple but there is some interesting footage away from the courts. For non-tennis or casual fans, this is a good series to get a little more invested in the tennis tour. I’d recommend BREAK POINT and will be watching part 2 in June.
Watch part 1 of BREAK POINT on Netflix from Friday, January 13
Find BREAK POINT at www.netflix.com/breakpoint