Ekaterina Kozhokina yesterday won the Ladies Open at Vale do Lobo, Algarve, Portugal, beating the English player Julie Pullin 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the final. Behind Kozhokina is Anatoli Lepeshin, the coach who launched Yevgeny Kafelnikov on the path to fame. Kozhokina praised him publicly, saying “I am with him because he’s a very good coach”. Kozhokina’s powerful tennis makes her a fearsome opponent on a fast court and this performance proved why she is rising up the ranking. At just 17 years of age, she was at 339th position in the women’s rankings before this match. Extremely ambitious, she says she wants to go all the way to the top. Her physical style has some tennis columnists describing her as a second Mary Pierce, who Kozhokina describes at “a party girl”. TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY, PRAVDA.RU, LISBON

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