Within the first few minutes of the Netflix film Untold Breaking Point. An old video about “mental stamina” appears regularly shown to young tennis players at the academy. An instructor clearly outlines the steps to follow. As if it were a do-it-yourself guide: “No complaining, no complaining”. Mardy Fish was one of those youngsters at the academy. Who made him think from the start that in competitive sports. You have to keep your head down and show weakness is a crime.
If champions can be made in the academy in this way:
American men’s tennis will continue to rule the world. But that hasn’t been the case since the dizzying 1990s. And Fish’s story is emblematic of what can actually go wrong. When the mental health issues in sport worsen and eventually break out. Breaking Point, part of the Netflix series Untold. Which shows Fish’s rise as America’s next big hope. The ups and downs as a severe anxiety disorder plague him with severe heart disease.
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An hour and 20 minute documentary about Fish, also about his childhood friend and contemporary Andy Roddick. While America is celebrating the success of the Williams brothers. The men’s game hits a wall and Fish, and Roddick is expected to finish it and usher in a new era.
Their association began at the Luxury Tennis Academy in Seddbrook, Tampa Bay, Florida, designated a kindergarten by the American Tennis Association to find the next Pete Sampras/Jim Courier/Andre Agassi. In the eyes of the many, including Fish, the determined Roddick had been branded a star student. Convinced Roddick’s parents that they had found their son’s sports game in Young Fish. And they even brought him home with them for several months.
The invaluable home videos by the Rodik family enrich this film.
One of the better anecdotes is how former soldier Roddick the Elder. Who got his son and Fish out of bed at 5 a.m. for training. It seemed that the training camp at Saddlebrook had not stopped. Back on the pitch, the rival friends faced an epic final in Cincinnati in 2003. How Roddick, on the verge of defeat, outsmarted his opponent is another interesting side story.
Roddick is willing to give the film his voice and expose his vulnerabilities. Provides a better view of their struggles as players and icons. Show creators Chapman Way and Maclain Way (also creators of Wild Wild Country) are also responsible for ensuring that Roddick – the biggest star of the two – doesn’t steal the show. Empathy and mutual respect are always there.
Fish takes a lot of courage to forget everything the video teaches. About mental resilience and tell the world what’s going on. He even underwent cardiac catheter ablation after suffering a heart rate so fast that he felt his heart explode.
However, being diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder eventually crippled his career:
Almost when Roddick retired early at the age of 30. Fish makes the most significant decision of his life against Roddick’s longtime foe. Roger Federer, to bring out the moments before the expected clash at the 2012 US Open.
Fish’s revelation and timing of the film’s release are relevant in light of Naomi Osaka’s recent mental health issues. And why professional sports gamers should provide an environment where they can freely talk about stress. Singles tennis can be very lonely because you don’t have anyone to turn down the idea. Netflix’s recent issue of the ever-melancholic Osaka delved deeper into her ethnicity and struggles for social causes. Still, Fish’s openness about her mental health was getting more challenging and underscores why sport needs to reassess its view of vulnerable stars.
A more sensitive approach to mental stamina may yield different results. Maybe Fish could win a Grand Slam; Can Roddick add more titles to his only US Open? We will never know.