Rank outsiders Canada take their fairtytale run to Belgrade as they face a daunting challenge against Serbia, while defending champions Czech Republic host Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-finals which begin on Friday.
The Canadians, who had never won a World Group tie before causing upsets against Spain and Italy this year, have been the tournament’s gatecrashers but travelling to the cauldron of the Belgrade Arena, where Novak Djokovic will lead the 2012 champions, will be uncharted territory for the North Americans.
The Serbs have chosen to play on clay, likely in order to take the sting out of big-serving Canadian number one Milos Raonic who is the country’s highest ever ranked player after breaking into the world top ten.
While the Serbian fans will certainly play a huge role with the tie being played in one of the largest indoor arenas in the world, the visitors know the region well with three of their players having Eastern European roots.
Raonic is the man on whom Canada have built their campaign and the 22-year-old comes into the tie on a seven match Cup winning streak as he hopes to tame a potentially fatigued Djokovic after his exertions at the US Open.
At Prague, Argentina need to overcome the jinx of being the only team to have lost all four of their finals and a poor record against their hosts.
They were beaten by the Thomas Berdych-led Czech team at the same stage last year while their only victory in five meetings dates back to 2005 and a 5-0 sweep in Buenos Aires.
Team skipper Martin Jaite will rue the absence of star man Juan Martin Del Potro which leaves Juan Monaco their highest ranked player at 30 and he will be supported by Carlos Berlocq, Horacio Zeballos and Leonardo Mayer.