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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

‘Break Point’ is good, but doesn’t win any grand slams

Riding on the success of its documentary series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”, Netflix has greenlit a slew of new sports documentary series to come out on its platform over the next two years. The first of these new documentaries to come out is “Break Point” — a series that ostensibly gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look into the goings-on of a tennis player’s life while they are on tour.

Since it is produced by Box to Box Films, the same company behind “Drive to Survive”, the premise of “Break Point” will be familiar to anyone who has watched the former show. Episodes of “Break Point” follow certain players around on different tournaments of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tours. The first half of the show was released on January 13 and the second half of the show is being released in June.

While the show was not able to feature interviews with some of the sport’s biggest names (Rafael Nadal, for instance). The show shines in its interviews with the players that did give the cameras behind-the-scenes access. Box to Box Films is masterful at building storylines that endear viewers to the subject of that episode — a skill they utilize well on “Break Point.” Throughout the course of the show, I felt myself beginning to support the players that I had seen before but never really learned much about, such as Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur.

There were some points of the show that were less than stellar, however, and they are mostly found in the things that they did not include. Some of the omissions simply boil down to the fact that the show cannot include too much about players who they are not following. For instance, one of the most exciting games of the French Open was the quarter-final game between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. It is understandable that the show does not include this game because neither Nadal nor Djokovic were an official part of the show.

It does not make sense, however, that the show does not include information that is necessary for the viewers' full understanding of a given situation. For instance, in the episode “California Dreaming”, the show makes a big deal out of the fact that the episode’s main player Taylor Fritz decides to play against Nadal with an injured foot. What the show leaves out is that Nadal was also injured with a fractured rib. This omission gives viewers the impression that an injured Fritz was able to beat a 100 percent healthy Nadal, something that the show has already stated is extremely hard to achieve. A casual viewer is then could be misled about how good of a player Fritz is after watching the show.

While the show is an interesting watch, it lacks the draw to non-fans of the sport that its predecessor “Drive to Survive” is so amazing at doing (and its poor explanation of how a tennis game works certainly does not help in the endeavor.) But if you or anyone you know ever wanted to learn about what the life of a tennis player is like, then I definitely recommend this show to you.

Title: “Break Point”

Starring: Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini, Ajla Tomljanović, Taylor Fritz, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur, Félix Auger-Aliassime, and Casper Rudd

Favorite episodes: “Great Expectations” and “King of Clay”

If you like: Tennis and “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”

Where to watch: Netflix

Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5

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