The Netflix curse has struck again at the Australian Open, claiming number six seed Maria Sakkari on Friday.
87th ranked Zhu Lin shocked the Greek star as she claimed the 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 victory to advance into the final 16.
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Netflix’s new series, Break Point, was released to the general public on January 13 and gives fans a look behind the curtain of the tennis world.
The 10-part docuseries shines a spotlight on multiple stars of the game, but ever since its debut the stars of the series have crumbled at the Australian Open.
Nine of the 10 featured in the opening five episodes have failed to make it into the second week at the first Grand Slam of 2023.
Three withdrew before the tournament got underway, missing out due to injury. Six have been eliminated before the third round ends.
Sakkari became the latest player to be struck down by the curse. Only Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime remains in the draw.
The win for Zhu was her first ever against an opponent ranked inside the top 10 in the world.
She had lost all seven of her previous encounters against top-10 players. But you wouldn’t have known it in a late-night encounter on Margaret Court Arena which went past midnight and, fittingly, into Chinese New Year’s Eve.
Underdog Zhu celebrated the Year of the Rabbit by taking the first set on a tie-break.
Though she dropped the second as Sakkari finally woke up, Zhu regrouped to secure the biggest win of her Grand Slam career and then burst into floods of tears.
“Is this real? Am I in a dream?” she sobbed.
“Thank you, my team, and thank you for pushing me every day,” she said, looking to her player’s box.
“It’s just I have to believe in myself that I have the ability to be able to play at this high level and I need to work hard every day.
“And, yeah, who knows what’s going to happen? You never know.”
But it was the curse which became the hot topic among tennis fans. Auger-Aliassime is left to carried the load for the series after American Taylor Fritz dispelled any notion prior to his Australian Open exit in the second round against Aussie Alexei Popyrin.
“I noticed the people pulling out of the tournament but I didn’t know it was a thing,” said the 25-year-old.“I’m not going to lose my first-round match because I’m in the Netflix show, so I didn’t think about that.”
Despite the curse lingering over Melbourne Park, it hasn’t deterred other stars from putting their hand up to appear in potential future seasons.
Denmark’s Holger Rune laughed off suggestions appearing may bring bad luck to players, saying he would be open to getting involved in a new season.
“I’m excited to do it. I think it’s going to be great. It’s good for tennis,” he said.
“It’s good for us players. [The] more fans we can get into the sport, it’s better. I’m just very positive about it.”
– with AFP