'Netflix curse' blamed as eight Break Point stars crash out of Australian Open

Break Point star Ons Jabeur - who reached two Grand Slam finals last year, including Wimbledon, was knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open.
Break Point star Ons Jabeur - who reached two Grand Slam finals last year, including Wimbledon - waves goodbye after being knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open. Credit: AP

A so-called "Netflix curse" is being blamed for the young tennis stars of its new docu-series, Break Point, crashing out of the Australian Open.

Nine of the ten players featured in the streaming services' series have made early exits from the Australian Open or have been forced to pull out before it even began.

Break Point follows the next generation of players in a behind-the-scenes look at the gruelling tennis circuit away from the big names.

But for its young stars, the series appears to have been a poisoned chalice.

Greek sixth seed Maria Sakkari became the latest victim of the curse, losing two sets to one to China's Zhu Lin in the third round.

She had seemingly dodged the curse after narrowly beating Russian teenager Diana Shnaider - who is not yet playing as a professional - in the second round, coming from a set down earlier in the week.

Wimbledon finalist and number two seed Ons Jabeur lost in the second round in the first Grand Slam of the tennis season, beaten 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 by 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova.

In another upset, men's number two seed Casper Ruud was knocked out by Jenson Brooksby in four sets in the second round.

Ruud and Jabeur were among 10 players featured in the series that focuses on the "underdogs" emerging to take the mantle from Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, who, having dominated the game for two decades, are now slowly bowing out.

Thanasi Kokkinakis shakes hands with GB's Andy Murray after losing to the Scot in a five-set nocturnal epic. Credit: AP

Italy's 13th seed Matteo Berrettini was also among the players featured in the Netflix series to exit this year’s tournament in the first week after being beaten by Andy Murray in the second round.

Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios, Paula Badosa and Ajla Tomljanovic, who all feature in Break Point, were forced to pull out of the tournament before even hitting a ball due to injury.

Taylor Fritz, another player who appeared in the docu-series, played down talk of a curse earlier this week - before being beaten in the second round.

Netflix jokingly addressed the notion of a curse on Twitter, retweeting an image of the players that are no longer in contention at the Australian Open with the caption: “To clarify: this is purely a coincidence...”

Netflix's UK and Ireland Twitter account even changed their profile to say; "The #NetflixCurse is not real", followed by a tennis ball emoji.

The social media account retweeted the Tennis Channel celebrating Félix Auger-Aliassime's victory in the third round.

The 22-year-old, who stars in Break Point, beat Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, to secure his place in the fourth round. He is now the only star of Break Point remaining.

Speaking after the match, Auger-Aliassime laughed off the so-called curse but the Canadian came close to losing in the second round earlier this week, before securing a thrilling five-set comeback win over Slovakian Alex Molcan.

When asked about the curse after his victory on Friday, the sixth seed said he had only been told about it that day.

“I was aware that players were losing, I’d see players were losing, but it didn’t cross my mind until, yeah, she showed me the thing this morning. I thought it was funny.

“I don’t know. I don’t think it’s connected. Maybe the players that lost, maybe they do feel like it’s connected somehow. I don’t think they do. But, yeah, so funny how things work out sometimes.”

The 10-episode-long series focuses on 10 players alongside some up-and-coming stars, among them Thanasi Kokkinakis.

The 26-year-old Australian was two sets to love up against Andy Murray on Thursday before losing to the 35-year-old Scot - who had a metal hip inserted in 2019 - in an epic five-setter that finished at 4am local time after nearly five hours on court.

Filming for the show kicked off at last year's Australian Open before following players to the Indian Wells Masters (March 2022), Madrid Open (April-May 2022), French Open (May-June 2022) and US Open (August-September 2022).