ANDY MURRAY goes on court for his first ATP Tour event today, the dollars-1.2m Open Seat Godo, in Barcelona.

The 17-year-old Dunblane player is there on a wild card, gained because of his links with the local tennis academy which has helped hone his game.

The US Junior Open title last year and a winning appearance as Britain's youngest ever Davis Cup player influenced the decision to grant a card, but his mother, the former Scottish national coach Judy Murray, warns he will have to earn invitations on ranking-point merit, otherwise it will mean fighting his way through qualifying.

As a youngster, Andy was not even the best player in the house, but now he has surpassed his elder brother, Jamie.

Taller, but more slight, he has made more impact at doubles, and with Colin Fleming from Linlithgow, Jamie is in line to win the Scandinavian Satellite Circuit event this week. Mother suggests, however, that he can still catch up with his younger sibling.

"Jamie is Andy's greatest supporter, " says Judy, "and Andy has found success difficult to cope with because he wants Jamie to do well. He knows what he wants, but his body shape is slighter, more suited to a serve and volley game at the moment, which is why he is doing well at doubles. Andy will run around all day.

"Jamie just has to be patient, grow into his body, and I am sure that in a few years we will see Jamie up there at the highest level as well."

Andy is 397th on the ATP rankings and faces the Czech, Jan Hernych, currently No.79, in Barcelona. Though he has beaten better players, this is a milestone in his career. Recent scalps include Arnaud di Pasquale, the Frenchman who beat Roger Federer en route to winning Olympic bronze in Sydney.

"But Barcelona is a huge test, " says mum. "At this level, you could lose 6-4, 6-4, and have the match turn on just two or three careless points, a loss of concentration.

"This is the next level up from the tournaments Andy has been playing. It's part of the learning experience, but realistically, bridging the gap will take two to three years."

He reached the semis of an event in Cremona at the weekend, but needs a quick-change act. That was hardcourt whereas Barcelona is clay.