Take the Crown
King of Clay
The audience for tennis is roughly twice as big as Formula 1. Following the success of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the streamers branched out and looked at incorporating the exciting, soapy and dramatic formula into different sports.
Break Point then is an interesting docu-series, one that does a great job capturing the same feel and tone of Drive to Survive, although at times it is a little bumpy and uneven in places as the show finds its rhythm and tries to fit the rhythm and rapport of tennis into this. Like an athlete finding another gear late on in a tough match, this tennis series eventually finds its groove around episode 3 and from there, it never lets up.
With the current crop of tennis superstars coming to the end of their careers, what with Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Djokovic and Nadal soon to hang up their racket and shoes, this 10 part series focuses its attention on the next generation of promising individuals coming through the ranks.
The show is broken up quite nicely across these opening five chapters, focusing on two of the four big tennis tournaments that hit the calendar. Specifically, the Australian Open and Roland Garros (French Open). Across each episode we meet a number of different athletes, from rebel bad boy Nick Krygios to Italian stallion Matteo Berrettini.
Each 45 minute segment shines a spotlight on two different athletes with differing fortunes and follows their journey through that chosen tournament and beyond. The only exception here comes from episode 1 which solely follows Krygios as he goes from Singles to Doubles competitions.
From there onwards though, the series gets better with lots of match action, a pulsating soundtrack to accompany games and some pretty interesting behind the scenes footage. While Nick Krygios is likely to get the most attention from those wanting Conor McGregor-esque cockiness and antics (don’t worry, there’s no beating up old men in bars here), the other guys we follow have equally endearing stories.
Whether it be the controversial decision to stop world #1 Novak Djokovic from entering Australia without the vaccine or Rafa Nadal’s uncle deciding to coach Felix Auger-Aliassime… and then ending up watching them compete against one another, there’s plenty of juicy drama to sink your teeth into.
On that same subject though, some of the editing is a bit disappointing. For example the Australian Open doesn’t even show the final between Nadal and Medvedev, despite that game being one of the best of the tournament’s run. Instead, we get a straight cut from the Semi to the winner lifting the trophy. There are a few moments like that across the season, missing out on some really good tennis, and it’s a bit of a shame this hasn’t adopted a more linear narrative of following the season from start to finish.
Despite that, Break Point has a lot going for it. The talking head interviews between the games are insightful, while the diagrams and text that flash up on screen to explain certain matches and showing how the points are distributed is a nice addition, even if the show barely brushes on terms like Deuce, Aces, Love and the scoring from 15, 30 up to 40 and beyond.
Break Point is a successful experiment in many ways, showing that the Drive to Survive formula can thrive in a different sport setting. There’s enough excitement and enjoyment in this first part to absolutely stick around for the second part coming later this year, and with the promise of both Wimbledon and the US Open on the horizon, you’ll undoubtedly come back for more. Despite a bit of a rocky start and a few missteps, this one comes highly recommended.
Part 1 of Break Point releases on Netflix worldwide 13th January 2023!
Verdict - 7.5/10