The Australians, led by former world number one Lleyton Hewitt, are underdogs going into the tie as they will be playing in front of an intimidating 14,000-strong Argentinean crowd on the clay courts of Parque Roca.

 

Hewitt has had a series of run-ins with Argentinean players throughout his career, including David Nalbandian and Juan Ignacio Chela - both of whom are in the Argentinean team for the semi-final tie.

 

Nalbandian got in early, firing the first verbal shots of the pre-match psychological battle.

 

"It's going to be easy, 4-1," he said.

 

"It's going to be even nicer that he (Hewitt) is playing, it will be a better spectacle, but the Australians have the same chances as before."

 

Currently ranked 4th in the world, Nalbandian played down talk of crowd hostility ahead of the weekend's matches.

 

"Everyone knows about the Davis Cup and when we play away they make our lives impossible," said Nalbandian.

 

"There is noise everywhere, insults and you have to put up with it. People here are much more respectful than abroad."

 

However Hewitt, who will be joined in the Australian team by Mark Philippoussis, Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley, was taking no chances when he arrived in the Argentine capital with two personal minders who will follow his every step off the court.

 

The South Americans accused Hewitt, currently ranked 19 in the world, of turning the Cup tie into a circus.

 

"Hewitt seems to be thinking that he's come to Iraq," said Argentina's Jose Acasuso.

 

"But we're not bothered because this is the circus that he wanted to set up.  Nothing's going to happen and we shouldn't pay any attention to it," he added.

 

"We're just worried about Argentina. Whether he has one bodyguard, or 500 bodyguards, that's up to him."

 

Argentina have not lost a home tie for eight years, and this is their fourth semi-finals appearance in the five years since they have returned to the Davis Cup competition.

 

The winners of the semi-final in Buenos Aires will meet either Russia or the USA in the Davis Cup final in December.