Rafter takes Australian Davis Cup reins

Melbourne: Former world number one Pat Rafter has been named Australia`s Davis Cup coach and is tasked with leading the once-great tennis nation back to the pinnacle of the sport.

The twice US Open champion replaces John Fitzgerald who stepped down after a decade at the helm.

Rafter will team up with his former coach Tony Roche to try to guide Australia back into the elite 16-nation World Group for the first time since 2007.

"This is something of a dream-team combination," Tennis Australia head of men`s tennis Todd Woodbridge said.

Rafter, 37, said he was eager to start working with the team.

"We`ve got a lot of young players that have a great opportunity to play for Australia," he said.

"My standards and expectations are extremely high. This is a great opportunity to be part of something that means a lot to me."

Australia`s most successful Davis Cup player Lleyton Hewitt welcomed the news.

"I`m happy with the appointment of Pat and Rochey. 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," he said.

"And Rochey, I have always said his experience is second to none and he will be a fantastic addition again to the team."

Australia has won 28 Davis Cup trophies, second only to the US with 32, but Rafter`s failure to win the team trophy remains a regret in his colourful career.

The serve-volleyer missed Australia`s 1999 final triumph over France with a shoulder injury and featured in Australia`s losing finals against Spain in Barcelona in 2000 and against France in Melbourne in 2001.

Bureau Report