The next generation: Bernard Tomic with captain Pat Rafter. Photo: Chris Hyde
Australian Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter says his team could not be better prepared to end a six-year exile from the world group.
Australia, which has not appeared in the top 16 since 2007, gets its latest shot at returning to the top tier in the world group play-off against Poland in Warsaw, starting on Friday.
And a team featuring Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic needs not look far for motivation.
Last year's heartbreaking loss to Germany was the nation's third-straight world group play-off loss.
"We're sick and tired of being where we are and falling over at the last hurdle," Rafter said.
The Australian squad spent last week training in Munich, minus late arrival Hewitt, who reached the final 16 at the US Open, and has since spent five days finalising preparations on the indoor clay court at Warsaw's Torwar Hall.
The form and attitude displayed by the players over the past fortnight has surpassed anything Rafter has seen since he took the captaincy in late 2010.
"So far it's the best preparation we've ever had," he said. "It's going to be a tough one. We're playing these guys at home on clay, but the boys have given themselves the best opportunity to get there and that's what I'm most proud of."
Last year's failed attempt to return to the world group remains a bitter pill to swallow for Rafter's team. Australia led Germany 2-1 in Hamburg before Tomic and Hewitt lost reverse-singles matches on the final day.
"That was a very heavy mental loss for all the boys. We took that one pretty hard," Rafter said.