“Breaking Point” highlights tennis’ noble losers

breaking point He builds his first show around Nick Kyrgios, a sexy Australian tennis player with a knack for self-combustion.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Glory is remarkably rare in breaking pointa new Netflix documentary series about the rare world of professional tennis from campaign to survive Team. In a sense, it is just convenient. Pro Tennis is a sport where the majority of the participants struggle to stay in the game financially; The talking head tells us that the first round prize of $100,000 can win the player the entire season. Few people manage to sustain a career as long as possible, let alone taste victory in the top four tournaments collectively known as the Grand Slam. There is a definite gloom to the sport as it is portrayed breaking pointwhich serves as a refreshing contrast to the high-flying rich boy drama campaign to survive.

Netflix is ​​down breaking pointThe first five episodes, which cover the first half of the 2022 ATP season, were released late last week. (The remaining episodes will arrive in the summer, an option that stops and does the momentum breaking point Real harm.) Much like other sports documentaries, including campaign to survive And All or nothingwhich basically doubles as season summaries, breaking pointHis main challenge is to deliver material compelling enough to afford easy access to recent history: tennis fans who go to the show already know the results of the matches, and unfamiliar viewers are just a few Google searches away.

The show’s answer lies in a narrow focus on individual backstories – and most obviously, a full embrace of the tragic yet emotionally rich reality that most of the main characters ultimately end their journeys in failure. Each episode focuses on one or two promising competitors about to take their careers to the next level. As we follow them through the competition, we are told, continually and emphatically, the details of their lineage, lives, and potential. Expectations swell and swell and swell, only for us to watch the player smash face first against the wall. The resulting effect can be repetitive, but again, that is the nature of the sport.

In the men’s game, that wall He usually takes the form of a Spanish demigod: Rafael Nadal, the 22-time Grand Slam winner, whose bulging, cartoonish forearms are the stuff of legend. (Though he’s looked mortally lately, he collapsed early in this year’s Australian Open.) Three of the five male players decided in the first half of the series—Mathieu Berrettini, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Rudd—all have made trips to the that limit. In defeat at the hands of Nadal. It’s tough, but what gives these stories a shiver of legends is how the men are presented to us as the generation-in-waiting after Nadal, Novak Djokovic (another wall, when he’s not being deported for refusing a coronavirus vaccination), and Roger Federer who retired last year. Will their time come? Possible and maybe not.

For women, defeat looms more dynamically. Their match has been widely open for quite some time now, even before the official end of Serena Williams’ historic career. (The past four years have seen Grand Slam titles traded through nine women; in the same period, only three men other than Nadal and Djokovic have won Grand Slam titles, in just one piece. Which of course leads to not being able to do that for players who have dated breaking point – in particular, Maria Sakkari, Agla Tomljanović, and Paula Badusa – more tragic than ever.

Even the successes We are On-screen documenters tend to feel a bit of an ache. Makes sense breaking point You’ll build an entire episode around Nick Kyrgios, the sexy Australian professional with a knack for self-combustion. Brilliant yet utterly fickle, Kyrgios cuts as close to perfection as he can get campaign for survivaldocu-figure as you will get it. The first ring quickly reaches him He defeated Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the second round at the Australian Open before watching Kyrgios merge with his childhood friend and eventually contest the doubles tournament for victory. Now, the doubles game tends to eschew the kind of respect given to individuals (unfairly); It gets less televised coverage, and the hype around the Grand Slam winners tends to be muted at best. to her account, breaking point He treats Kyrgios’ win in multiples as a thrilling victory, but when approached in the context of his wider solo career arc, it’s hard not to feel like the win is more than a consolation. Similarly, the fourth episode culminates in the victory of Anas Jaber in another preliminary tournament, the Madrid Open. Jabeur is one of the more fascinating stories in the world of tennis: She’s the best Arab and African player in the professional game, she hails from Tunisia, and she does it all with far fewer resources than her counterparts from countries with more established tennis development systems. Winning the Madrid Open was a big deal for Jabeur, but then again, most viewers can easily learn what happens for the rest of her season: two Grand Slam final appearances, two heartbreaking losses.

One might ask why breaking point It doesn’t spend a lot of time on the main winners. The answer is almost certainly trivial: There’s little incentive, at this point anyway, for top stars to subject themselves to the foray into the docuseries experience. There was a similar lack in the early seasons of campaign to survive, which was notably devoid of perennial winner Lewis Hamilton. There’s also the fact that the other half of the season still has to wait; We might still catch a glimpse of the young phenom Carlos Alcaraz until now.

Still, there is something piercing and true about the bleak ignorance on display. “We all learn how to lose,” says Scarry, who is essentially one of those players who are always on the brink of being rescued. “Unless you’re Roger, Rafa, or Novak, that’s a different story. The rest of us, we’ll lose more than we win.” Sports stories have always tended to focus on the diversity of the greats: the great winners, the great losers, the great rivalries, the great scandals, the great tragedies. But what about the more common but no less awesome experience of just being in conflict? where campaign to survive He highlighted that humanity, perhaps unexpectedly, by showing how the world of Formula One is run by chaotic divas, breaking point He does the same by sticking to the pain of the game. There’s an unparalleled quality in photos of failure: tennis is a godsend. Most who play will fail, but there is beauty in that. Glory be to the losers.

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