AIDAN McHugh, back home and battling the jet lag in his native Glasgow after reaching the semi-finals of the boys’ singles at the Australian Open last weekend, is telling me how much he looks up to trash-talking ultimate fighting superstar Conor McGregor. Even if, factually speaking, it should really be the Irish-American who looks up to him.

After all, according to the pen mark on the wall chart in the family home, McHugh is now 5ft 9½in tall. This makes him rather undersized amongst the giants of top-class tennis where even 17-year-olds such as his second-round victim at Melbourne Park, Jaimee Floyd Angele of France, can stand a whopping 6ft 9in tall.

But it also gives him half an inch of height and reach over his idol McGregor, not to mention the best part of four inches over someone like Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who has found a build akin to Lionel Messi’s

no obstacle to a place in the world’s top 25.

As of now, McHugh is merely the ninth-best junior player in the world, but whether or not he grows any higher on that wall chart in the next six months or so, he already has high hopes of mixing it with the best senior players the world has to offer.

It always helps, of course, when you have a big hitter like Andy Murray in your corner. The British No.1, who has made McHugh one of the first signings to his 77 Sports Management company, was quick to congratulate the teenager, particularly when it comes to the giant strides he has made improving his on-court movement, the perfect way to compensate for his lack of inches.

“Obviously Andy and Jamie [Murray] are always a big support for me and I am really lucky to have that,” McHugh told Herald Sport, his freckles freshly brought out by the Australian sunshine. “Andy sent me a nice message just to say ‘remember how much you have come on, even over the space of the last two weeks’. Movement is going to be huge for me, just because of my size.

“Obviously if I grow any more then I will take it, but because I have been playing a few bigger guys, I know that even if I am not as big as them then that’s fine – I just need to be extremely quick and fast,” he added. “Have I grown a bit? Not really. We’ve got the marker in the house and you maybe go up in tiny bits.

“My dad is 5ft 11in but I am already 5ft 9 and a half, which is taller than Conor McGregor. I am a massive fan of him – not so much all his chat, but I like the way he competes. He is fearless, that is the way to do it. I guess it goes back to me taking on these taller guys. It is good to see the way he [McGregor] does it, under the pressure. He is a good guy to look up to.”

While he is grateful for a few home comforts, all the glamour of Aidan’s Antipodean adventure will be far away this afternoon when he returns to the match court for the first time in the GB Pro Series, which doubles as the

Scottish Championships, at Scotstoun Leisure Centre.

Forget about being a top-10 junior player, where McHugh’s sights are really set is on Futures events like this, where he can start whittling away at a senior ranking which – courtesy of one win at this tournament last year – currently stands at 1828 while an 18-year-old like Denis Shapovalov of Canada is already in the top 50.

Today, third up, he faces the formidable challenge of Yannick Mertens of Belgium, a 30-year-old previous winner of this tournament who is ranked 317 in the world and has previously been half that.

“It is nice [to be ranked in the world’s top 10],” said McHugh. “But I don’t really care about it to be honest. While I want to try to win the junior slams, the ranking I care about is my senior ranking to be honest with you and just by playing well you can move up. There are guys who are only a few years older than me already in the top 50, so I need to kick on with the senior stuff.”

Australia went by in a blur. There was a chance meeting with his fellow British semi-finalist Kyle Edmund as they waited for transport underneath the Rod Laver arena as his semi-final was moved indoors, halfway through, to avoid a Melbourne downpour.

There was delight at forcing his brother Liam to stay up all night watching his matches, while he and his coach Toby Smith, brother of Davis Cup captain Leon, had managed to watch another one of his heroes, Roger Federer – against whom McHugh played two tie-break points in the SSE Hydro in November – winning his 20th grand slam on the flight back home.

The arrangement with 77 Sports Management is already paying dividends even if there wasn’t already talk about practice with the former World No.1 when he is fit to resume following hip surgery.

“I just hope he gets back into the swing of things, even if he is slow to start,” said McHugh. “I know how long he has been out for and how desperate he is just to get stuck back into it again.

“Hopefully in the next little while he is able to go through normal routines without getting disrupted by injury and potentially, if he is feeling fit, we will hopefully get some training.”

McHugh, who follows Maia Lumsden on this afternoon, is the sole male Scot left in the singles draw after Scott Duncan lost 6-3, 6-3 to No.6 seed David Pichler of Austria and Ewen Lumsden went down to Juan Sebastian Gomez 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Should McHugh defeat Mertens, he will face another familiar face in Nicolas Rosenzweig, a Frenchman who coaches at the University of Stirling.