Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

WERDIGER | Grading ‘Break Point’ Season 2: Part 2

In this edition of “Causing a Racquet,” Robbie Werdiger (CAS ’24) reviews the last three episodes of the second season of Netflix tennis docuseries “Break Point.”
Wikimedia Commons | Episode six of Netflix’s “Break Point” followed U.S. tennis star Ben Shelton’s breakout success at the 2023 U.S. Open.

Season 2 of “Break Point,” the Netflix docudrama series that follows the lives of several top players on the professional tennis tour, was released Jan. 10. Here are my grades for the final three episodes.

For a review of the first three episodes, click here.

Episode 4: “Unfinished Business”

It’s a shame that the show’s best-paced and most inspiring episode comes with a notable asterisk. In “Unfinished Business,” we are given an exclusive look into Alexander Zverev’s bumpy recovery from a horrific ankle injury. Following a potentially career-threatening ankle injury during the French Open semifinal in 2022, the audience feels Zverev’s pain as his dreams slip away and he is forced to relearn basic movements. 

Zverev’s dedication and journey develops into a bright storyline in which the audience is swayed into viewing the 6’ 6” German as noble and classy. For example, the episode highlights a Zverev-organized jewelry fundraiser for people with diabetes, as well as his condemnation of Daniil Medvedev’s petty mind games on the court.

But Medvedev is no villain — the former no. 1 Russian tennis player is widely regarded as one of the more cerebral and likable players on tour — and Zverev is certainly no hero.

The angle of the episode has deservedly received criticism, given Zverev’s ongoing sexual assault case. In October 2023, a criminal court in Berlin ordered Zverev to pay a hefty fine for abusing and injuring the mother of his child. In addition, his ex-girlfriend, Olga Sharypova, has previously accused him of intimate partner violence. Zverev has objected to the penalty order and will face a hearing on May 31

“Unfinished Business” makes no mention of these events, choosing to include commentary from Zverev’s current girlfriend, Sophia Thomalla, instead. While entertaining, the episode is misleading and out of touch.

Grade: B+

Episode 5: “Now or Never”

One of the successes of “Break Point” is its ability to share the psychological toll of living and dying by your racquet week after week. The self-induced and external pressures of playing an individual sport at the highest level weigh differently on each personality, and “Now or Never” perfectly captures those constant internal battles that the sport can trigger. 

This episode specifically focuses on the stories of Jessica Pegula and Maria Sakkari, who has been on the Hilltop recently visiting her boyfriend, Konstantinos Mitsotakis (MSFS ‘25).

Both Sakkari and Pegula have established themselves as top players on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour, yet each has struggled to break through at the biggest events and claim a coveted Grand Slam title. 

During the episode, former world no. 1 Naomi Osaka shared her thoughts on the mental toll Sakkari and Pegula must feel of constantly falling short.

“Sakkari and Jessica Pegula have been constantly reaching for that one trophy, but the longer that goes on, you put so much pressure on yourself and you kind of put it in this unattainable realm. You go into that thinking, ‘This is my last chance to make a mark,’” Osaka said in “Now or Never.”

Through a behind-the-scenes look viewers have been yearning for all season, the audience sees both players at their most vulnerable moments — crying in the locker rooms, questioning their futures in the sport and reacting to harsh media comments.

The two WTA stars are articulate and authentic when sharing their feelings and despite their hardcomings, continue to persevere toward their dreams. 

Pegula, whose parents own the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills and National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, has a strong heart on and off the court and refuses to shy away from any challenge. 

In one of the more memorable scenes of the series, she breaks down a huddle during the Bills’ training camp.

“I know we come from two different sports, but I feel like athlete to athlete we can all relate to the same thing and that’s I know you guys want to win a Super Bowl, I want to win a Grand Slam,” Pegula said in the episode. “Trying to be great is f***ing hard, so it’s really tough. But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. But I would say just enjoy the journey. The dream is the journey.”

Grade: A

Episode 6: “Becoming The One”

The Season 2 finale takes the approach “Break Point” should have adopted from the start. 

With the entirety of the episode centered around the 2023 U.S. Open, “Becoming The One” follows the American players previously featured in episode three  — Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul — in their quest to hoist the coveted U.S. Open trophy and claim eternal stardom. 

With locker room reflections, celebrations and breakdowns, “Break Point” captures the primal nature of the sport through every lens. From the pre-tournament fashion shoots to the late-night celebrity-filled crowds in Arthur Ashe Stadium, episode six perfectly encapsulates the pressure and grandeur surrounding the New York slam. 

The episode takes an unexpected turn when 21-year-old American Ben Shelton steals the spotlight, serving his way past Paul and Tiafoe before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. 

Shelton’s unlikely run immediately changes the narrative around American tennis, and the former Florida Gator immediately surpasses his compatriots as the man with the best chance to end the American U.S. Open drought.

There is no shortage of American champions in the women’s game, however, and the episode concludes with teenage sensation Coco Gauff following in the footsteps of the Williams sisters, truly “Becoming The One.” Lifted by more than 23,000 fans, Gauff fulfills her childhood dream and edges past Aryna Sabalenka in the final, a rollercoaster three-set affair, proving American tennis is in good hands. 

On the other hand, the show follows Sabalenka throughout the series, and the audience feels for the Belarusian as she breaks her racquets post-match and describes playing against the strong pro-Gauff American crowd. 

“Becoming the One” is definitely “the one” episode to watch.

Grade: A+

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