Sydney :Two-time US Open champion Pat Rafter was on Wednesday appointed to replace John Fitzgerald as captain of Australia's Davis Cup team.
Former No. 1-ranked Rafter is only the fifth man to captain the Australian Davis Cup team in 60 years. His appointment follows the lengthy tenures of Fitzgerald, John Newcombe, Neale Fraser and Harry Hopman.
The 37-year-old Rafter's first major assignment is to guide Australia back into the elite World Group for the first time since 2007. His first match in charge will be an Asia-Oceania qualifier against Taiwan in March.
As a player, Rafter helped Australia reach the final in 1999, but was sidelined for the win over France at Nice with an injured shoulder. He was on the Australian teams which lost finals to Spain in 2000 and France in 2001.
Rafter retired from professional tennis later in 2001 with 11 career singles titles, including back-to-back U.S. Opens in 1997 and '98. He lost consecutive finals at Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001.
"I am really looking forward to working with the team and helping lift Australian men's tennis on the world stage," Rafter said. "We've got a lot of young players that have a great opportunity to play for Australia. My standards and expectations are extremely high. This is a great opportunity to be part of something that means a lot to me."
Tony Roche will return as coach of the Australian team. He was Rafter's longtime coach.
Australia's 28 Davis Cup titles is second only to the United States in the international men's team competition. But the Australians haven't won a title since 2003, the highlight of Fitzgerald's decade in charge.
Tennis Australia's head of men's tennis, Todd Woodbridge, described the appointments of Rafter and Roche as "something of a dream-team combination."
"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," he said.