Twenty-time Major winner Roger Federer has revealed that he struggled with back pain during a lean title spell between 2012 and 2017 and thinks that the brickbats he received during this phase was harsh.

After winning his seventh Wimbledon title in 2012, Federer’s next Grand Slam title came almost five years later when he defeated rival Rafael Nadal in the 2017 Australian Open final.

“When you look back and you look at the four-and-a-half or five years that I didn’t win a slam, people almost make it sound like I was playing terrible. I had a tough year in 2013 with a lot of back pain from Indian Wells on throughout the summer,” said Federer in an Instagram conversation with tennis veteran Gustavo Kuerten.

Federer added that it was a big surprise for him he was able to come back to the circuit as well as he did in 2017, with Australian Open and Wimbledon titles.

Here’s the video of the interaction between Gustavo Kuerten and Roger Federer:


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The 38-year-old also acknowledged Djokovic’s stunning rise while he was nursing himself back to full fitness. The ‘Big Three’ of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have accounted for 56 of the last 67 Grand Slam titles.

“Honestly it was I think the time of Novak and Rafa also was keeping a lock on the French Open as we all know. So it was difficult to slide in a special victory,” he added.

“I think I was able to keep pushing because I believed I was very close and I had a good team and I never lost motivation.”

After another debilitating injury in 2016, Federer had doubts about his future in the game.

“And I enjoyed the practice. I was able to keep going and then the injury came 2016 and then that was a tough year for me. And I obviously had thoughts if this is going to be the end or not.”

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Clarification: The article originally linked back to a site that reported the quotes. The attribution has been changed to reflect the fact the Federer spoke to Kuerten over an Instagram chat.