The tennis community have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Netflix series that is due to shine a light on the sport in a way like never before, and the All Court Tennis Club have been permitted a special early access viewing. The series in question is Break Point, which is set for release on the small screen on the 13th of January.
Having spent an entire year following around a select group of the world’s most successful players and taking full advantage of their behind-the-scenes access at major global tournaments, the hope is that Netflix will highlight the game in an new way while presenting the sport to a diverse audience.
After the Netflix show F1: Drive to Survive peeled back the stories behind the headlines in Formula 1, Break Point has been hailed as the tennis version that could build the global brands of the game’s biggest stars.
Player in focus – Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios was an obvious candidate to lead the first episode of Break Point.
A compelling character who divides opinions with his contentious antics on and off the court, the Aussie maverick has claimed on social media that he is the star of this Netflix production.
He dominates the first episode of Break Point as he reflects on his life as a young boy, with contributions made from both of his parents.
The bond he has with his backroom team is explored and the episode ends on a high following a win at the Australian Open doubles title with his great friend Thanasi Kokkinakis.
We were teased with a glimpse of Kyrgios’ relationship with girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, but it feels like there could have been more information extracted from the fascinating sports star.
Players in focus: Matteo Berrettini, Ajla Tomljanovic
Tennis players spend a lot of their time in hotel rooms and we get to see that in living colour as we are taken inside the romance between top male player Berrettini and WTA star Tomljanovic.
Clips of a messy hotel room shared by the pair set the scene for a glimpse into the lives of the two players, eager to challenge at the top of the game while supporting each other during high and low moments.
Again, it feels like we could get more from this episode, with a lot of screen time dedicated to the on-court-action rather than satisfying the viewers’ thirst for a look at the personalities behind the racquets.
Players in focus: Maria Sakkari, Taylor Fritz
The best of the first three episodes includes Maria Sakkari reflecting on her brief ‘retirement’ from tennis and some compelling scenes of Fritz’s dispute with his coaching team in the hours before last year’s Indian Wells final against Rafael Nadal.
Sakkari has played a huge role in propelling tennis to the front pages of Greek newspapers, not only that, but the star comes across as charming and sincere when introducing viewers to her sister and backroom team during a battle through to the final of the Indian Wells event.
Sakkari reveals she ‘retired’ from the game after a series of losses and disappointments, only to realise she had so much more to offer and quickly returned to the practice courts.
Fritz and his girlfriend Morgan Riddle are given plenty of air time in this episode, with an injury to the American on the morning of his Indian Wells final leading to dramatic scenes that show his team urging him to withdraw from the match.
He decides to play with the help of pain-killing injections in his ankle and pulls off a remarkable win against Nadal, who was also injured during that final.
The initial response to Break Point from tennis writers has been negative, but it could be said that their verdict is clouded by resentment that they themselves didn’t receive similar access to the game’s top stars.
We could have expected a little more insight into the back stories of players in the opening three episodes, but the show still succeeds in promoting tennis to a new audience.
There is more to come with a second batch of episodes to this series landing in June, but these first few offer enough to suggest this could be a long-running series for Netflix.