London, England, 19 September 2013 | AAP

Australia has been dealt a daunting assignment for its return to the Davis Cup World Group after being drawn to face France away from home in the first round.

Captain Pat Rafter had been hoping for a touch of luck in Wednesday’s draw after Australia beat Poland on Sunday to secure a return to the top tier for the first time since 2007.

And while his side avoided the competition’s top-ranked teams for round one, starting on 31 January, there was still little luck as Australia missed a home tie and were pitted against the fifth-ranked French.

It means a side spearheaded by Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt will need to beat a squad brimming with talent including world No.8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon to ensure survival in the top 16.

The draw means Australia will almost certainly have to again compete on clay, their least-favoured surface on which they earned wins of Uzbekistan and Poland this year.

France are nine-time Davis Cup champions, last winning the title in 2001.

They lost to Argentina in the quarterfinals this year.

A win over the French would send Australia into a quarterfinal against either Spain or Germany while a loss would force them into another World Group Play-off tie to keep their spot at the top level in 2015.

The 28-time champion nation wrapped up a 4-1 win over Poland in Warsaw on Sunday and Rafter said the draw would be crucial.

“We have a very good team but you do not want to play Spain in Spain on clay,” Rafter said.

“There are a few matches we don’t want, that no-one wants. But outside the top couple of teams, we have a realistic chance of winning.”

The tie at a yet-to-be-determined venue will be held from 31 January to 2 February.

Australia suffered a first-round loss to Belgium when they last competed in the World Group seven years ago.

The last two meetings between Australia and France were in Davis Cup finals.

The French triumphed 3-2 in Melbourne to capture the title in 2001 while Australia won by the same scoreline on clay in Nice in 1999 to win the nation’s 27th Davis Cup crown.

Australia are in the same half of the draw as top seeds Czech Republic, who will host the Netherlands in round one.

The Czechs face Serbia in the 2013 final in November; the second-seeded Serbs will meet Switzerland in round one next year.

Other first-round World Group assignments include the US hosting Great Britain and Argentina at home to Italy.

A coin flip earned Japan a home clash with Canada while Belgium have an awkward first-round trip to Kazakhstan.