A series of semi-random and out-of-order thoughts and observations on the Netflix series Break Point.
After watching the entertaining and sometimes-electric Episode 1 of Break Point, which largely featured Nick Kyrgios, I was surprised to read the lukewarm reviews of this series. Some called it “boring.” How would that be possible? Especially for a rabid tennis fan like me?
There’s a very real challenge with vérité filmmaking. A hitch in the giddyup. Vérité is an “embedded,” “in the moment” style. But the problem is: We are no longer in the moment. This was last year.
Furthermore, Netflix dropped this batch of five episodes at once. This is how they do, despite consultants telling them they could gather more buzz and momentum with weekly drops. Who are we to question one of the most successful media companies on the planet?
Did I find Episode 2, which largely spotlights Matteo Berrettini and Ajla Tomljanovic, boring? Yes and no. It was interesting to me to see the challenges of their relationship, and one begins to understand why they might have broken up (more on that below). But the match scenes, which I had lived in real time last year, fell flat for me.
And the final problem with vérité– if you pick the wrong horse to follow. The match of the year in 2022 was Rafael Nadal vs. Daniil Medvedev for the Australian Open Championship. In this documentary, that contest was glossed over. In fact, so much was glossed over, including the Djokovic drama. The producers had their rundown. They had their story to tell– and when the story took a different turn, they couldn’t break with their rundown to capture the truly dramatic stuff. Perhaps the Netflix golf docuseries will actually capture the drama of when all hell broke loose on that tour, learning from what happened on Break Point.
Just like Episode 1, this series starts with one of the Big 3– Novak Djokovic. The whole conceit of this docuseries is the “young guns” looking to knock off the Big 3. And yet they can’t. Nobody can get off the crack. To paraphrase Andy Murray, they’re not effing done.
Hugo Boss got its money’s worth.
Berrettini has a weight about him now that he did not have in 2019. What changed him? Getting older? The pandemic? Being in a serious relationship? He just doesn’t seem like the same happy, light-as-air guy. I for one want the old Matteo back.
As an introvert that has been married to an extrovert for 25+ years, I can tell you that two introverts in a relationship doesn’t work as well. It just doesn’t.
A hotel room with the “just robbed” look. I can relate.
Note to all tennis stars who consider sharing a hotel room with their boyfriend/girlfriend at at Grand Slam: Get the extra room. It’s always nice to have a place to escape.
Did I miss a mention that Tomljanovic used to date Episode 1 star Kyrgios? Or that she represents her adopted country of Australia, which might have impacted the pressure she put on herself at the Australian Open? C’mon Netflix. Please don’t miss the obvious.
Why they broke up. *Deep breath.* Ok. It really comes down to winning. She wasn’t winning. Also, he wasn’t winning as much has he had the previous year. Matteo alluded to it himself in a prescient moment when he talked about making changes after a loss. If you’re a hyper-competitive person in a relationship, and you have any inkling that it might be stopping you from winning, odds aren’t good that the relationship will last. And that’s the case whether the relationship is actually a drag on your game or not. It’s the perception that it might be which is the killer.
Matteo to Ajla: “I’m still in the Australian Open!” (You are not.) Freaking ouch.
I have a working theory that women do not spar with fellow tour players nearly as much as men do. This is more evidence. Ajla to coach, “Who am I hitting with?” Coach: “Me?” … As Berrettini hits with Top 5 rival Stefanos Tsitsipas. Like what? Re-think this, women.
I must have that red Nike t-shirt worn by Carlos Alcaraz which depicts a koala bear holding a tennis racquet.
So many empty seats for Alcaraz vs. Berrettini. No, no, no.
I don’t care if the Facetime with Matteo’s grandma while he was in the ice bath was staged. It gives me feels for days, and he is a good person and a mensch.