By Benjamin Snyder
Li Na captured her first title since winning Roland Garros last year by defeating Angelique Kerber 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Sunday at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
A finalist in Montreal on Monday, Li successfully changed the course of play with her penetrating groundstrokes after coming out flat in the opening set. With the victory, she leads the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series standings with a chance to win bonus prize money at the US Open, the year’s final major.
Additionally, Li became the first woman to make Premier-level finals at Montreal and Cincinnati in the same year. This is her first title of the season, having advanced to the championship round at Sydney, Rome, and Montreal.
After her win, Li said, "Last night, I really want to win the title for first one, you know, because this year I got three time in the final, but I never won one title." She added, "So I was really hungry for the title."
By defeating Kerber in the deciding set of the match, Li handed the German only her second loss in three-sets out of 20 total played this season. The last time Kerber dropped a match that went into a final set was against Tamira Paszek at Eastbourne, a Wimbledon tune-up event.
Said Kerber after the loss, "Yeah, for sure I'm very happy that I was in the final. Today I think Na Li was better than me." She continued, "In the third set I give all I can, but, yeah, she hit the balls better and make not so many mistakes than I do."
Against lefthanders in 2012, the Chinese top-ranked player is now 12-2.
To make it to the final, Li defeated American wild card Venus Williams in the semifinals. She needed three sets against the seven-time major champion, winning 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in just under two hours.
Kerber, meanwhile defeated Petra Kvitova, the winner over Li in Montreal, in her semifinal match at night on Center Court.