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Rafter named Australia's Davis Cup captain

sports Updated: Oct 20, 2010 17:35 IST

Australian tennis great Pat Rafter was Wednesday named captain of the Davis Cup team, officials said, tasked with guiding the country back into the elite world group of 16.

The former world No. 1 and two-time US Open winner and Wimbledon finalist replaces John Fitzgerald, who is retiring after a decade in the job.

Tony Roche, who has worked as a private coach to Grand Slam champions Ivan Lendl, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and Rafter, was appointed coach -- a position he also held from 1994 to 2000.

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

"Pat and Tony both have an incredible commitment to the sport and their country, and to be able to get them both on board is truly a coup."

Rafter said he was honoured to be offered the job, and looked forward to "helping lift Australian men's tennis on the world stage".

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

Australia missed promotion to the Davis Cup World Group last month after Hewitt was sidelined with injury and the team lost a play-off to Belgium 3-2.

Hewitt, the nation's most successful Davis Cup player, welcomed Rafter's appointment.

"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 have won the Davis Cup 28 times, most recently in 2003, and will seek to rejoin the World Group beginning at a first-round Asia-Oceania Group I tie against Taiwan in Melbourne in March.