When Netflix announced they were making a documentary series about tennis, similar to their work focused on Formula One in Drive to Survive, I was intrigued. I didn’t watch the motorsport one, having spent too much of my time already watching that sport, but people seemed to think it did a good job telling the stories behind the races, and even non-F1 fans were raving about it.
Imagine if they could do the same thing for tennis!
Well, the first half of the first series of Break Point (five episodes, with another five to follow in June) has been released and I have watched and loved it… but I’m not sure it will appeal to people that don’t like tennis already. It’s brilliant to get a deeper insight into the behind the scenes preparations, the relationships, the drama that we don’t always get to see, and there’s a real focus on the mental side of the game that continues to astound me.
Following the major tournaments of the first half of last year, including two grand slams, the show has access to current players on both the men’s and women’s sides of the draw, plus talking heads from former players and broadcasters alike. They do a great job of trying to make the slightly odd tournament structures and tennis scoring accessible to non-fans, but mostly there isn’t a lot of dumbing down.
I don’t know that this would convert anyone to becoming a tennis fan but for those that do like to dabble in watching racquet sports, it’s great to get a bit more information about players you’ve heard of and probably ones you’ve haven’t. As always with documentaries, the things you consume mean a lot more when you know some of the work that’s gone in to it.
Plus, you know it has to be a good show when the first two episodes were mainly focused on the men’s side of the draw, and we don’t care much for men’s tennis… but were still absolutely glued to the screen.
I’ve read with interest recently some articles that suggest there’s a curse hitting those that have been associated with the show, which is a fun idea but is surely missing the point. Most of the five episodes hammer home the fact that tennis players lose more than they win, and in every week there’s only one successful and happy player by the end.
I can’t wait for the next five episodes to be released in June. The only problem with the way this show is being released is that we’re watching content from fully a year ago - talking about last year’s Australian Open when this one is just wrapping up. That’s the nature of the sporting calendar, of course, but it does mean life has moved on significantly since the documentary events occurred.
But it’s a great record to have for reference and definitely worth a look into if only to make the stars of the future the familiar names they should be.