WASHINGTON -- Beating the No. 1,015 player in the world normally is not cause for celebration.
But for Thomas Hogstedt, he was playing for pride when he beat five-time Wimbledon champion and fellow Swede Bjorn Borg, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), last night in the first round of the NationsBank Classic at the H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.
"It was a big match," said Hogstedt, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound right-hander who practices at the same club with Borg. "I've been growing up with him and practicing with him since I was 15 up until two years ago.
"I almost retired because I've been playing very bad lately. That [beating Borg] means more to me then winning the tournament."
Borg felt that this was the best of the four matches he has played this year.
"My game is getting better," said Borg, who has not faced a Swede in a tournament since 1981 when he beat Mats Wilander, 6-1, 6-1, in Geneva. "This is pretty typical of the matches I've been playing. I had quite a few chances."
Hogstedt, who was 16-years-old when Borg won his first Wimbledon, capitalized on erratic play by Borg in the first set, which started almost 1 1/2 hours late because of rain.
Hogstedt broke Borg to go up 2-1 before the rains fell again, suspending play for an hour.
"The rain delay was good for me because I was nervous," Hogstedt said.
"I could have been up 4-0. But every Swedish player would have been nervous playing Borg." Borg, in his first appearance in Washington, moved better after the break, running around his shaky backhand to hit forehands.
After losing the first set, Borg fought back behind the encouraging cheers of the crowd. He jumped out to a 4-1, 0-30 lead after two unforced errors by Hogstedt.
But Borg could not convert on the big points, having a 0-40 lead on Hogstedt's serve at 3-4 after a drop volley winner and two Hogstedt errors.
"My strong point used to be winning important points," Borg said. "But today I did not do that. When I have chances, I need to be careful." Hogstedt pulled even at 4-all, and each player held serve to reach a tie-breaker.
Borg took control in the tie-breaker -- going up 3-1 after Hogstedt missed a running forehand passing shot and 5-3 on a netted Hogstedt return of serve.
Up 5-4, Borg attacked the net on the next three points. He missed a backhand drop volley, which died in the net, got passed, and missed a backhand volley to end the match.
"I think it's better to take a chance," said Borg, who characteristically is a base-line player. "I've been playing more carefully and still losing, so I decided to take a chance here." Borg is 0-4 in IBM/ATP Tour events this year, losing in the first round of the Nice Open, the Volvo Monte Carlo Open, the BMW Open in Munich and here.
"After he lost to [Goran] Prpic [6-1, 6-0] in Munich, many people questioned his comeback," Hogstedt said of Borg. "But Borg has improved so much. Bjorn is playing better and better."
And, no matter how he plays, as Hogstedt said, Borg is still Mr. Tennis.
In the final match of the night, which didn't begin until nearly midnight, Henrik Holm beat Richey Reneberg, 6-1, 6-3.
In two other singles matches of interest yesterday, Jared Palmer of Saddlebrook, Fla., defeated Sandon Stolle of Australia, 6-3, 6-4, and Jimmy Arias of Buffalo, N.Y., downed Chris Pridham of Canada, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Three days into the tournament, tennis fans are finally going to get to see the big names in action. All of the top eight seeds play today, with No. 5 seed John McEnroe taking on Jeremy Bates in the 7 p.m. feature singles match, followed by second-seeded Andre Agassi playing Kevin Curren.