Why you can’t finish 2021 without seeing “Breaking Point” – the insider documentary about Mardy Fish
More and more films and documentaries about tennis are hitting the screens – including this must-see about the journey of Mardy Fish
- Watch on: Netflix
- Directed by: Chapman and Maclain Way (USA)
- Running time: 1h19
- Series: Untold
- Featuring: Mardy Fish, Tom and Sally Fish (his parents), Stacey Gardner (his wife), Christian LoCascio (his physical trainer), Andy Roddick
Breaking Point tells the hidden story of former player Mardy Fish of the USA (ranked seventh in the world in 2011), whose career was turned upside down when he suffered a severe anxiety attack just before facing Roger Federer in the last 16 of the 2012 US Open. Andy Roddick’s good friend (and rival) plunged into a depression from which he never really recovered.
Three things you learn
- Fish lived with the Roddick family for a year as a teenager.
- Federer is said to have deliberately allowed him a few games in the final of the 2004 Halle tournament.
- He has absolutely no recollection of the end of his victory against Gilles Simon in the third round of the 2012 US Open, already in the throes of a serious bout of stress that foreshadowed what was to come.
Three memorable quotes
- “People who are considered the greatest feel like they’re going to rip your head off, tear you apart, and stomp you on the way to victory (…) At a certain point in his career, I don’t know if Mardy was ready for that. He’s one of the only guys I know who understood it, and corrected it.” – Andy Roddick
- “The criticism hit him hard (…) His mind was set on that. From that point on, he became a different person. Something broke inside him.” – Christian LoCascio
- “Nobody knew what I was going through, because I had trained myself not to show any weakness. So I kept it all to myself (…) Ironically, it was showing my weakness that contributed to my recovery.” – Mardy Fish
Tennis Majors’ review
Breaking Point is undoubtedly a documentary to see, if only because it echoes one of the themes that marked the year 2021, a taboo highlighted by Naomi Osaka: that of mental health, of athletes in general, and tennis players in particular.
It’s hard to believe that the images of Mardy Fish in his prime – his tan, his surfer’s hair and his ultra-bright smile – show a man in the depths of psychological suffering. But the lives of tennis players are often like the ones on social media: heavenly on the surface, much darker on the inside.
Nothing, at first glance, predisposed Mardy’s life to fall into a void: a loving family, a selective, privileged training at the Saddlebrook national academy, promising first steps on the circuit… Everything was going well, as long as he was content, more or less consciously, to evolve in the shadow of Andy Roddick, his rival and best friend, practically his brother in arms.
And then, paradoxically, everything changed the day Fish was about to leave the shadows for the spotlight – having taken his career in hand and worked hard, flying into the top 10, qualifying for the ATP year-end finals, and becoming the new American No 1. Like Icarus, that flight was too close to the sun, and Fish was burned, overwhelmed by the new responsibilities, with all the criticism, expectations and pressure.
Not everyone is cut out for this. And it turned out that Mardy wasn’t. This is what we understand from this very well constructed documentary by the Way brothers who have unearthed some fascinating archive material – ah, little Andy Roddick shaping his serve! – which makes for a fast-paced and enjoyable viewing experience.
As for the moral of the story, it seems clear: if you try too hard to hide your weaknesses, you end up revealing them – in sport and in life. Mardy Fish, this pure American raised in the cult of strong men, has come to understand this, at his own expense. Paradoxically, he has never been more impactful than by exposing his vulnerability to the world as few athletes have had the courage to do before.
This is the main message and purpose of Untold, the documentary series to which Breaking Point belongs. And it succeeds.