Australian Open rocked by 'Netflix curse' as seeds continue to fall

The 'Break Point' series might have broken the players who starred in it, if their Australian Open returns are anything to go by.

Nick Kyrgios and Ons Jabeur, pictured here at the Australian Open.
The Australian Open has been hit by the 'Netflix curse', with Nick Kyrgios and Ons Jabeur among several players featured in the Break Point series to have been knocked out. Pictures: Getty Images

Having launched just prior to the Australian Open, the Netflix series 'Break Point' was supposed build the hype for another big year of tennis. Instead, the series looks to have put the mockers on those to have taken part.

Each episode follows one of 10 players on tour - but those selected might not be able to contribute a great deal of footage for next season based on their time at Melbourne Park this year. All but one of the players featured in the first season have either withdrawn from or been knocked out of the Australian Open already.

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Only Felix Auger-Aliassime remains alive in the bracket, following a series of high-profile withdrawals and exits in the early rounds. The Canadian World No.7 is set to face Jiri Lehecka in the fourth round, hoping to avoid what fans have dubbed the 'Netflix Curse'.

Nick Kyrgios, who was featured in the first episode, withdrew days before the Australian Open due to complications from a meniscus tear. Fellow Australian hopeful Alja Tomljanovic also had to pull out due to a knee problem.

The likes of Thanasi Kokkinakis, Matteo Berrettini, Taylor Fritz, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur and Casper Ruud have all been beaten prior to the round of 16 as well. World No.2 Jabeur's defeat was perhaps the most surprising of all, crashing out in the second round.

Fans have been quick to pick up on the pattern, but Auger-Aliassime admitted he wasn't actually aware of it until his girlfriend pointed out to him that he was the last one standing. “My girlfriend showed me today. I wasn‘t aware,” he said after his third-round win over Francisco Cerundolo.

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

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

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It has been a remarkable run of upsets and early exits for the Break Point stars at the Australian Open. Kokkinakis might be hard done by to be included on the list, going down in a five-set epic against former champion Andy Murray, which run beyond 4am in Melbourne.

Jabeur had been expected to challenge for the title, while Sakkari was upset by China's Zhu Lin in their third round clash on Friday night.

Fritz fell in five sets to Australian wildcard Alexei Popyrin, while Berrettini was a first-round victim of another five-set epic from Murray. Paula Badosa was another withdrawal before the grand slam after suffering an abdominal injury in the lead-up.

Maria Sakkari and Nick Kyrgios, pictured here at the Australian Open.
Maria Sakkari and Nick Kyrgios both took part in 'Break Point' on Netflix. Image: Getty/Instagram

Popyrin, who slipped to 113 in the rankings following a difficult 2022 season, upset world the aforemention Auger-Aliassime on his way to the Adelaide International quarter-finals earlier in January. He joined in local fans' chants of "Poppy! Poppy!" as tears flowed after his latest shock victory.

"This win means so much to me," Popyrin said. "I had the toughest year last year. I didn't win many matches. I've won as many matches this year as I won last year and it's only January."

Popyrin said his strong pre-season preparation had given him belief and the physical capability to stay the course throughout his opening two matches. "I put my head down and worked as hard as I possibly could," he said.

"I don't want that feeling that I had last year ever again. That I wrote down to myself in my head and I'm going to keep working, keep pushing and I'm going to try and keep going all the way, man. I love this feeling and I want more of this feeling."

With AAP

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