ALICIA MOLIK will succeed her former coach David Taylor as Australia’s Fed Cup captain, with one of the three unsuccessful candidates, Todd Woodbridge, appointed to a mentoring role. Nicole Bradtke will remain as coach.

The popular Molik, 31, was unbeaten in doubles and compiled a 12-15 win-loss record in singles over 22 ties from 1999. Now forging a media career, she is a two-time grand slam doubles champion and Athens Olympic singles bronze medallist, whose opening Fed Cup assignment will be both difficult and immediate, for the opening world group tie will be played against reigning champions the Czech Republic in Ostrava in three weeks.

”Dave has left big shoes to fill and I am really inspired by the challenge. It is an exciting time in Australian tennis and we have the talent in this team to produce some great results,” Molik said. ”Of course we go in underdogs [against the Czechs], but undaunted. These girls showed against Germany in Germany last year that they are capable of playing wonderful tennis and winning ties that no one expects them to win.”

The other applicants were Rennae Stubbs and Nicole Pratt, with Stubbs – the most capped player in Fed Cup history – another to have broad support. Woodbridge, Tennis Australia’s head of professional tennis, will also travel with the team. ”Alicia has a wealth of experience at the top level and in Fed Cup and will be a great leader for this team,” he said. ”Alicia’s strong and recent involvement with the tour and Fed Cup give her a great perspective for the captaincy and her personality and leadership style will be an asset for the team.”

Meanwhile, former Davis Cup captain John Newcombe admits to the odd flashback to his chilly relations with Mark Philippoussis as incumbent Pat Rafter deals with the challenge that is Bernard Tomic.

”It’s a little bit similar,” Newcombe said on Friday when asked about the parallels with the Philippoussis and Tomic situations. ”Probably in some degrees it’s the same, so Pat had a look at it as part of the team [when he was a player], and now he’s getting it on the other side.

”It’s never easy on the other side, but I’ve obviously been talking to Pat through this and Pat feels that unless he can build a strong culture, he’s wasting his time. And it’s good to see everybody supporting him, because if he feels the culture isn’t right at the top, what chance has he got of creating the culture amongst the young ones?”

While backing Rafter’s firm handling of a situation that has been criticised by the likes of Paul McNamee, Newcombe said it was in Tomic’s best interests to heal his rift with Rafter, who overlooked the world No.43 for next month’s Davis Cup tie for attitude reasons. Tomic responded by declaring himself unavailable for the April fixture.

”He’s only 20 years of age,” Newcombe said. ”I think it’s very important for his future that he patches things up with Pat and that he becomes a part of the team atmosphere. If he embraces that and continues the way he’s going, he’s going to make a heck of a lot more money out of endorsements in the future.”

Tomic has been the shining light in a grim summer for the host nation, with the fact that only Tomic, Sam Stosur and James Duckworth reached the Open’s second round constituting the worst Australian result in the open era. ”I think in many ways this is taking a long time to regroup and rebuild, and it just shows you that the first half of the last decade how things weren’t right,” Newcombe said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.