Sydney (AFP) - Two-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Pat Rafter was on Wednesday appointed as Tennis Australia's new director of performance.
The role is effectively the most powerful within the nation's professional tennis ranks, with Rafter reporting directly to Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley.
"It's a challenge I am really looking forward to. There is so much I can learn but also a lot I think I can contribute," said Rafter, Australia's current Davis Cup captain.
"I feel the time is right to step into this role and help us take the next step.
"I would like everyone to know that I am not coming into this role early next year saying that I have all the answers. Far from it. I am going to take my time, listen, watch and learn.
"But I also think there is a lot I have gleaned from years on the tour being around a lot of great players, coaches and people that can help us get better and better," he added.
Tiley said he was delighted Rafter had accepted the appointment.
"Pat is an outstanding person, strong leader and terrific mentor. His principles and personal ideology align very strongly with what we want young Australians to achieve in world tennis," Tiley said.
Rafter remains Australia's Davis Cup captain, but his new position will inevitably lead to speculation his appointment is the first step towards veteran Lleyton Hewitt taking over that post when he retires.