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Break Point episodes 1-5 review: Netflix’s attempt to replicate Drive to Survive for Tennis is bland

Riddled with poor structuring of episodes and flat narratives, Break Point is easily one of Netflix’s most uninspired sports documentaries

2.5/5rating
Break Point episodes 1-5 review: Netflix’s attempt to replicate Drive to Survive for Tennis is bland
  • Ryan Gomez

Last Updated: 06.09 AM, Jan 18, 2023

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Story: The Netflix documentary Break Point focuses on a few ATP and WTA stars who could become Grand Slam champions in the post-Roger, Rafa, Novak, and Serena era — Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini, Taylor Fritz, Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkari, Felix Auger Aliassime, and Casper Ruud. Each episode attempts to give an insight into the lives of a top tennis professionals.

Review: People who enjoy sports documentaries would immediately find it odd that a tennis documentary is called Break Point. Not because there is anything wrong with the name itself, but for the fact that there is another tennis documentary from 2021 with the same title — a riveting insight into the careers of Indian tennis legends Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. If the creators of the new Netflix documentary opted for this name unintentionally, then it is simply too casual.

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However, considering it is a Netflix production, there should be no reason why the 2023 Break Point wouldn’t surpass the 2021 version. But one would be wrong to make such an assumption. Despite being granted exclusive access to some of the biggest tennis stars of the future, the documentary fails to offer an engaging narrative that takes a deep dive into the lives of tennis players during a major tournament. Instead, it briefly touches upon several aspects of a player’s tour without further exploring any single aspect in particular.

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The documentary is split into five episodes focusing on one or two plays in each, and the first episode features the most ‘box-office’ Tennis player today — Nick Kyrgios. The episode should’ve served as the explosive start of the docu-series, but it ended up being a smattering of bright moments and several surprisingly tedious scenes. Oddly enough there is significant screen time for Kyrgios’s girlfriend of two months. There are several facets of Kyrgios’s enigmatic persona and career that could've intrigued any tennis fan, but they were only briefly mentioned. The episode’s saving grace is Kyrgios’s doubles run at the Australian Open with his best friend Thanasi Kokkinakis, which would eventually see them win the men’s doubles at the Australian Open.

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Matteo Berrettini’s episode is unfortunately the least inspiring of the first five episodes. His relationship with WTA star Ajla Tomljanović is briefly explored, with a significant focus on his defeat to Rafael Nadal at the 2022 Australian Open. The episodes that followed featured American Taylor Fritz and WTA players Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa, and Ons Jabeur. The docuseries falls flat yet again despite being presented with the opportunity to explore compelling themes. In fact, Ons Jabeur probably deserves an entire documentary dedicated to her life and rise to stardom, and of course, for being the most entertaining women’s tennis player today.

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Netflix’s documentary about retired American tennis star Mardy Fish, titled Untold: Breaking Point, was masterfully crafted with an engaging narrative. While it does follow a different format to Break Point, a comparison between the two is inevitable for obvious reasons. Break Point does redeem itself towards the fifth episode to an extent as the focus shifts to the French Open as two rising talents, Auger Aliassime and Casper Ruud, attempt to dethrone the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal. But it’s too little too late.

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With the Australian Open 2023 less than a week away, the documentary could have been the perfect launchpad for new tennis fans. The trailer for episodes 5-6 does offer a sense of optimism as it will feature the 2022 Wimbledon.

Verdict: Netflix’s answer to a Formula 1: Drive to Survive-type documentary for tennis fails to keep one invested in many of its storylines. Riddled with poor structuring of episodes and flat narratives, Break Point is easily one of Netflix’s most uninspired sports documentaries in recent years.

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