Joyously, there is no shortage of tennis documentaries and books for fans to enjoy, and Puneet Bhandal is here to guide you through them – starting with Mardy Fish in Netflix’s Untold: Breaking Point.
Title: Untold: Breaking Point
What: Documentary/Sports movie
Duration: 1 hour 19 mins
This documentary could not have come at a more apt time considering mental health is such a talking point in tennis right now.
Untold is a five-part docuseries that uncovers some truths from the world of sports. Untold: Breaking Point looks at the rise and fall of Mardy Fish.
Some of you may remember Mardy Fish’s brief – but utterly impressive – climb to form and the top 8 in 2011.
Fish had spent most of his career under the very tall shadow of compatriot Andy Roddick who won the US Open in 2003 and subsequently went on to become World Number 1 for a period of 13 weeks.
A Top 20 player at best for most of his 20s, the desire to participate in the World Tour Finals motivated Fish to dedicate himself to fitness and training. At the expense of his social and personal life, Fish got himself into the shape of his life. Sure enough, the results came. He scored high-profile victories over Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal.
Finally, at the grand old age of 30, Fish became the USA’s number 1 player and world-ranked 7. Roddick’s career was already in decline and Fish was suddenly the Golden Boy of American tennis.
The full weight of expectation and hope shifted from Roddick to Fish. And it impacted him in ways that he could never have imagined.
Untold: Breaking Point takes us behind the scenes with some interesting unseen footage from the years Roddick and Fish were sparring partners to the time they dominated US tennis. ‘We weren’t best friends – we were brothers,’ says Roddick.
And it’s almost true as Fish actually moved into the Roddick family home. Both players talk candidly about their early friendship and gruelling training regimes with Roddick senior waking the boys up at 5am to stretch each day.
If you find it hard to understand how a player can be in great form but then have a complete mental breakdown – sometimes during the course of one match – this is a must-see. Fish tells us exactly why he withdrew from his much-anticipated US Open 4th round showdown in 2012 with Roger Federer. And in parts, it’s painful to watch.
We think nothing of players withdrawing from matches with shoulder, elbow, wrist or ankle injuries. Admitting mental health issues usually results in being branded ‘weak’ or ‘frail’.
But Fish is brave enough to put that to one side. He wants to show the world what Severe Anxiety Disorder – and life as a modern-day professional tennis player – looks like. ‘I wanna share my story so I can help,’ he says.
Roddick talks frankly about his struggles too. When he says he can no longer stomach a protein bar he used to eat daily at the height of his career because it brings back memories of those days, it makes you think.
Watch it and you may understand why players break down in press conferences.
Watch it and you may never want to call a tennis player a choker again.
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