SURFING: Julian Wilson's world titles hopes suffered a serious blow on Friday morning, when he was eliminated from the Quiksilver Pro France.
The 28-year-old went into the ninth of 11 events in third place on the rankings but he was knocked out in round two by local hope Marc Lacomare 13.27 to 12.23.
If John John Florence and Jordy Smith reach the latter rounds of the event, it could all but spell the end of his pursuit this year.
"The world title is my biggest motivation and that was a bit of a dagger in my hopes for that this year,” he told event media.
"But, I've won those next two events before and I'll look forward to them.”
Indeed, he knows what it takes to do well at Portugal and at Hawaii but, depending on other results in France, winning the world title now looms as an extremely tough task.
The disappointing result in France came as a surprise to most, given his recent form.
A winner of the Billabong Pro Tahiti in August, the Peregian Beach board rider seemed to making a late season charge for the title.
But he never really got going in France, especially against Lacomare.
"It was a tough heat. It's shifty out there and a long way out to sea,” he said.
"I didn't finish two waves that would have probably changed the result of that heat.
"I'm disappointed that I didn't get the win, this is my poorest result this year but it's the way it goes.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.