08/19/2012 06:11 EDT | Updated 10/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Li overcome awful opening set, rallies to beat Kerber for elusive title in Cincinnati

MASON, Ohio - China's Li Na won her first title of the season, overcoming an awful first set to beat Germany's Angelique Kerber on Sunday in the Western & Southern Open final.

After finishing second three times this season, Li finally got a trophy with her 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory. She lost in the final at Montreal a week earlier, and appeared headed for another disappointment after her poor showing in the first set.

Gerber wore down during long rallies, grabbing her ankle at times. Li broke her serve by winning a 24-point game of the second set, putting her in control. Li hadn't won a tournament since 2011, when she won at Sydney and the French Open.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova dropped out before the tournament began because of illness.