“Break Point” is a great glimpse into tennis…if you’re not a fan of tennis
welcome everybody. welcome back. Express Housekeeping:
• We will have our seed reports for the 2023 Australian Open later this week.
• We will also have our 2023 Australian Open visitor guide later this week.
• Good Soldier: Tennis Channel will premiere two hours of the Australian Open. Lindsay Davenport, Steve Weisman, and I will be babbling starting at 7 p.m. ET.
• We’ll be back to traditional mailbags next week, but for now…
For weeks, a number of you have asked about the status of Netflix.campaign to survive Tennis series.” Some answers: It’s called breaking point. The first part of the episodes will be released on January 13th. Here is a link In every detail. Here are some ideas:
A review examiner has been sent out for the first five episodes with a block date of January 8th. Since it’s January 9th, I’m working on the assumption it’s okay to share some impressions. Without spoiling too much, here’s a two-sentence review: It’s very good, amazingly at times. Also, you are not the target audience.
What do I mean by that? Let’s start with the virtues. There is a lot to recommend here. bearing echoes campaign to survive—The series that popularized and demystified Formula One for many—breaking point is a great game in the best possible way, a fast-paced, brilliantly shot, brilliantly edited series that generally succeeds at what it sets out to do. The five episodes you watched go a long way toward turning tennis into compelling programming by personalizing athletes, stepping into restricted access zones and creating the story lines that define the season’s arc.
If you know little or nothing about tennis, this will be difficult Not Coming up with a greater understanding of the sport and its challenges. It would be similarly hard not to show a real fondness (and genuine sympathy) for each of the featured players.
As is often the case with “documentary format playback” (see: EncourageAnd U last chanceThe filmmakers place a series of bets. Some pay off well, from the decision to follow the novelty law that is Nick Kyrgios in Australia (where he started in the midst of a career crisis and ended up winning the men’s doubles title) to dedicating plenty of real estate to the single Ons Jabeur (who, of course, would go on to crack the top five and reach two finals). major in 2022). Other story lines are less compelling or pay off more modestly as the season progresses. So it goes.
The series is, thankfully, light on technical details and match analysis. The viewer will not go away from appreciating the tight control or the importance of the back-breaking game. But there is a real insight into tennis here, mostly about the mental/spiritual demands of the sport. In particular, the filmmakers highlight one of the great ironies of modern tennis: It is a fierce individual sport but (perhaps as a result) it has also turned into a team sport. The filmmakers make the inspired choice of tying down the central characters while devoting plenty of time to their coaches, spouses, significant others, parents, and guardians who watch nervously on location and at home, and continents away.
So where do you — a committed tennis fan, who reads a midweek tennis column, and stuck with your data-driven goat sites — fit into this? Well…you’ll enjoy this, but you’re not the demo the series is trying to be. breaking point It is not journalistic and is not intended as an honest recap of the 2022 season.
Given the goal of “expanding” and persuading the audience to form associations with the characters during the tennis season parabola, there are glaring omissions that will confuse/amuse tennis fans. There are sequences shot in chronological order. There are big moments and topics that get less (or less) attention, including Ash Partey’s retirement, Iga Swiatek admirably benefiting from her promotion to No. 1, Djokovic’s circus at the 2022 Australian Open, or Nadal’s dramatic comeback at the time. . The Australian Open final, which gave him the lead in the all-time major race over Roger Federer and Djokovic.
Which brings us to our second point: As we’ve known all along, some camps will be more receptive to this project than others. In particular, the big three and Serena were, understandably, less keen on being tracked down by camera crews than their younger buddies. The filmmakers have turned this into a virtue. Rather than pumping out yet another saintly biopic – with references to the ‘Golden Age’ and the ever-present main scoreboard – this series spins the plot forward and introduces a new cast, happy to provide access as they approach their climax, not to think about it.
This will ultimately benefit tennis. The whole time, I couldn’t help thinking that the people in the various tennis marketing departments could hardly have written it better:
“How will we move from the era of Federer, Nadal Djokovic and Serena? “
“Listen to me: Let’s launch a Netflix series that focuses, almost exclusively, on guys in their 20s and airs entire episodes without even mentioning these generational stars!”
“That’s good! Because we’re kind of at this stopping point for the sport—”
“Save that idea. I think we have our nickname.”
Are there some unforced errors? Of course there is. With so much material left out – we’d like to know the proportion of footage to footage used – way too many episodes filled with sports cliches and hollow quotes. (Even Kyrgios, who is often the embodiment of flamboyant candor, can come across as sweet.) Over and over again, “players give 110%.” They’re deliberating on “nightmares” and “dreams from when I was a kid.” We get the familiar obligatory reference for hard-core competitive players who hate to lose, even when playing cards. Being the favorite can bring pressure that the underdog doesn’t face. There is a lot of potential gold in all those hours of shooting; It’s a pity that precious time is devoted to hollow generalities that don’t illuminate, drive the plot, or help audiences connect and engage.
And granted, I’m writing this before watching the episodes set in Wimbledon 2022 — where Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas engage, memorably, in a cage fight masquerading as a lawn tennis match — but so far, all of the conflict on the show is of the internal variety. . breaking point He does a remarkable job of looking at the mental difficulties of tennis players, the players being their worst enemies, and the doubts that are magnified and overwhelmed. (It’s easy to see why the group’s mental health was so unstable in both rounds.)
But other than that, by five episodes, everyone loves and respects them. Tennis seems more like a nice group of fellows in a traveling circus than a group of competitors who harbor some animosity towards people trying to grab their scarce and limited resources (money, endorsements, attention, glory, ranking points).
Casper Ruud and Holger Rohn may have come close to hitting each other in the locker room after playing the 2022 French Open, but you won’t see that here. (Strange, since there are other shots in the locker room after the game – obviously the cameras were rolling when This is amazing It happened). Players (such as Simona Halep) may suddenly fire their coaches, seek to form a separate players’ union, question the fate of Peng Shuai, or face allegations of partner violence. But you wouldn’t know that here. Again, no one expects a press show à la Eva Orner. But for a drama series, breaking point Clearly – and even strangely – light on tension and friction. Until now, anyway.
This is a tennis fault rather than a filmmaking fault, but, visually speaking, the issues of sports attendance are thrown into stark dissonance. We are told of matches that come stress-laden and will change the entire course of careers, all with swells of stringed music to emphasize importance. Then the cameras go to … tripods that are 20% full. Tennis fans, unfortunately, are used to this board. You imagine a non-tennis player fan bewildered, wondering why there are such vast oceans of empty seats when they are supposed to be extremely important time slots.
But really, these are quirks, some loose points in five solid combinations. Will this series change the game of tennis? unlikely. But it will attract new fans and strengthen the passion of old ones. And the winners are plenty. Andy Roddick is, as might be expected, excellent as a wise, straight-talking ex-player. Less predictably, Maria Sharapova delivers a series of perceptive notes throughout. Our friend Courtney Nguyen was a great choice as scene arranger who helps put holes in the plot and provide the explanation — for example, there are 128 men and women in the main draws — without condescension. I want to hire breaking point Editorial team for my next project. The musical score can be a bit extravagant, but it does a lot to push the non-tennis audience to experience the drama and feel the tension at the right times.
Above all, the series soars in nailing—completely nailing—the tennis secret hidden in plain sight: that magic is a mirage. There might be luxury hotels in Paris and Madrid, gift bags in Australia, and seven-figure paydays on the line. But at its core, this is an unforgiving sport. It hits you mentally. All but one player leave town for the next caravan stop on a losing streak. It’s hard to separate your self-worth from your results (the fact that you’re most visible when you turn away from stars with double-digit majors and nine-figure nest eggs to focus on Paula Badosa types, just trying to live up to expectations and maybe, if all goes well, a major bag).
At one point Marie Auger, the utterly lovable mother of the utterly lovable Felix Auger-Aliassime, marvels at what her son has to put up with at his job, and the professional demands of being a top player. It may also be a logo for a file breaking point a series. “The demands on these players are enormous. You need an incredible level of physical, mental and emotional strength. So I have a lot of admiration for my son.”