Jacob Fearnley knows that when he walks onto court at tennis' All England Club against Spanish qualifier Alejandro Moro Canas, it’ll feel unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

The 22-year-old from Edinburgh is in the form of his life but even he didn’t expect to be making his Wimbledon singles main draw debut quite this early in his career.

Last month, following victory in the men’s singles at the Rothesay Open Nottingham, Fearnley was awarded one of seven wildcards into the world’s most famous tennis tournament and despite his Nottingham win being the best result of his career, even Fearnley was surprised at the invite into Wimbledon’s 128-strong men’s singles main draw.

“I’d had a good week in Nottingham and I felt I maybe deserved a qualifying wildcard,” he says.

“I know it’s really difficult to get a main draw wildcard so I really wasn’t expecting that so when I got the call saying I was in the main draw, it was pretty surreal.”

Having surged his way through the draw as a qualifier in Nottingham, Fearnley defeated fellow Brit, Charles Broom, in three sets in the final and the Scot’s maiden ATP Challenger Tour level tournament win was, he admits, a hugely significant moment in his still fledgling professional career.

“Winning the tournament was a little bit unexpected but it was great because it’s set me up for the rest of the summer," he says.

“The whole tournament, I compete really well - I was in some difficult situations but I was able to stay calm and dig my way out. I played aggressive tennis and backed myself and everything aligned pretty perfectly.”

(Image: Tennis Scotland)

With that ATP title win, Fearnley’s world ranking rose to 271 but despite his recent form – since last October, he’s also won two ITF singles tournaments and reached the final of another – he remains a somewhat unfamiliar name outwith tennis circles.

Much of his anonymity is down to the fact he’s spent almost five years in America having begun studying at TCU in Fort Worth in Texas when he was just 18.

Relocating continents was, clearly, a momentous move for the teenage Fearnley but he’s in little doubt that his time in America has been the making of him.

“Going to the US and playing college tennis was the best decision I ever made,” he says.

“When I left for Texas, I wanted to progress my game and mature physically and mentally in the hope that five years later I’d be ready to play on the pro tour and I’ve given myself a good start with that,” he says.

“It was a great experience – I loved being part of the team and the people there are my best friends now. We got some very good crowds – we could get a couple of thousand people watching and that really prepared me for playing on the pro tour. College tennis crowds are loud, a bit obnoxious and there’s a lot going on. You have to see it to really appreciate what it’s like.”

Fearnley’s emergence couldn’t have come at a better time given there’s likely to be a sizeable hole appearing in Scottish tennis very soon with Andy Murray’s imminent retirement.

It would be presumptuous to expect Fearnley to fill Murray’s extremely big shoes but even being suggested as the player who is Scotland’s next big tennis hope is, admits the Edinburgh man, a huge honour given he’s spent his entire tennis career admiring Murray and his achievements from afar.

“It’s an honour to be mentioned in anywhere near the same sentence as Andy. But from Andy to me is a really big drop off in level,” Fearnley says. 

“What Andy’s done for the sport as a whole and for British and Scottish tennis is unbelievable. If I could have even a quarter of the career he’s had, I’ll be very happy."

Fearnley’s first round singles match against Moro Canas – if the Scot wins, he’s likely to face Novak Djokovic in round two - will not be his only chance to step onto Wimbledon’s hallowed courts this summer. 

The Scot was also awarded a doubles wildcard with his partner, Englishman Jack Pinnington Jones, but he’s well aware that the luxurious surroundings he’ll be enjoying at the All England Club over the coming days will be a far cry from the vast majority of his next few years on tour as he attempts to climb the rankings. 

He is, though, ready for the slog.

“At Wimbledon, I have no real pressure on me – I’m just going to try and enjoy the experience and grab every opportunity I get," he says.

“Then, for the rest of the year, I’ll work on getting my ranking up and hopefully I can start making it into grand slam qualies and then grand slam main draws,” he says.

"When you’re playing tournaments like Wimbledon, it’s very glamerous but until you’re at that level all the time, tennis can be a very tough sport. There’s a lot of travelling and you’re sometimes playing in some not-so-nice places a long way away from family and friends. 

“I’ve not been fully exposed to that yet but I’m ready for it and hopefully I can get out of those type of tournaments as soon as possible and get into the bigger ones.

“I’m not naïve about things – I know how tough it is but I just want to keep giving myself opportunities to continue progressing.”