Most great tennis players, and great athletes, will tell you that they always have something to prove when they go out on court, no matter what they’ve already achieved. That involuntary drive to succeed is what made them so good in the first place. After 10 NBA titles, Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics said he wanted to prove to himself that he could do it one more time, because each win felt like the first. His fellow basketball legend Michael Jordan said that having a new live audience every night motivated him to show them what he could do, even if they had seen it a thousand times on TV.
For tennis players, the desire is perhaps more pronounced and primal. Whatever you’ve done in the past, there’s a competitive instinct that takes over and makes you to beat the person on the other side of the court, today. Even Marat Safin, a great athlete who could have been much greater, decided at the 2005 Australian Open that he wanted to prove, to himself mostly, that he wasn’t a one-Slam wonder. Mission accomplished; if only he had needed to show us more.
That said, as we enter 2013, there are tennis players who have more to prove than others. Here are five of them who should feel like making a point, whether it’s to themselves or their doubters or their rivals, in the new year.