Mitani ends Japan’s 37-year women’s singles medal drought at World Badminton Championships

Kyodo

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.”