COPENHAGEN – Minatsu Mitani fell in the semifinals on Saturday at the World Badminton Championships, losing in straight sets to top seed Li Xuerui of China.
As a beaten semifinalist, Mitani earned a bronze medal, the first in singles for a Japanese woman at the worlds in 37 years since Hiroe Yuki’s bronze. Mitani lost to London Olympic champion Li 21-8, 21-14 in 31 minutes.
“My opponent was superior to me in every area,” Mitani said. “My speed was of no consequence, as my body felt heavy.
“I felt I could win points if I could get into long rallies, but she ended them quickly.”
In the women’s doubles semifinals, Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwa lost to two-time defending champs Wang Kiaoli and Yu Yang of China and also left with bronze medals. Kakiiwa and Maeda lost 21-8, 21-13.
“They played the game much faster,” said Kakiiwa, who won a silver medal at the London Games. “We were frantic to be able to return, so we were unable to maintain any kind of attacking posture.”