Pat Rafter, Tony Roche set to inspire Oz Davis Cup team

Melbourne : Former tennis players Patrick Rafter and Tony Roche were appointed captain and coach of the Australian Davis Cup team with the motive to guide the country back into the elite 16-nation World Group.

Two-time US Open champion Rafter said he is ready for the challenge and his immediate task is to guide Australia back to the World Group for the first time since 2007.

`I am really looking forward to helping lift Australian men`s tennis on the world stage,` Rafter was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

`My standards and expectations are extremely high,` he said.

Rafter replaces John Fitzgerald, who served as the non-playing captain for 10 years.

Australia lost their playoff 2-3 to Belgium in Cairns and therefore lost on the chance of getting back amongst the World Group.

The outgoing captain Fitzgerald said Rafter was the best man for the job.

`We need him, the game needs him and you could not get a better guy to lead Australia. We are all just delighted,` Fitzgerald said.

`It took him a while to make up his mind, but it is a win-win for everybody.

`It is a win for me because I could leave when I wanted to. It is a win for Tennis Australia and it is a win, in particular, for our sport.`

Senior player Lleyton Hewitt said he is keen to work with Rafter.

`Pat and I get along great and have shared some special moments at the highest level of Davis Cup and I look forward to working with him,` Hewitt said.

Australia begin their journey back to the World Group with a first-round Asia-Oceania Group 1 tie against Taiwan in Melbourne March 5-7, 2011.