SURFING: Peregian Beach's Julian Wilson will head to the season-ending event of this year's Championship Tour with at least a chance to win the world title, after a resurgent performance at Portugal on Wednesday night.
The 28-year-old was all but out of the running after a disappointing outing in France earlier this month but he bounced back into contention with a stirring showing at the MEO Rip Curl Pro, where he reached the final.
He was ultimately edged by Brazil's Gabriel Medina 13.26 to 10.94, after the Brazilian produced a crucial move with only moments remaining.
"We always get a good test coming here to Peniche. It can be intimidating or super exciting going for big airs," Wilson said.
"I'm glad we got a couple of exchanges in that heat and congratulations to Gabriel."
But Wilson did enough at the event to get back into the Championship Tour frame, moving from sixth to fourth on the rankings.
He'll still need a mighty performance at the 11th and final stop in Hawaii in December, and have other results go his way, to stand any chance of claiming a maiden world title.
But that he is even being talked about as a chance is remarkable given his fade-out in France.
Wilson has long been touted as a potential world champion but his best season-ending standing is sixth place, in six seasons.
It was the eighth event victory of Medina's career.
"Julian got me so many times so it feels good to get one back over him," he said.
"When he got the score at five minutes I thought 'oh my God, not again', but I kept going and I'm so stoked I won in the end."
Medina and South Africa's Jordy Smith can also still claim the world title, heading to Pipeline, which is arguably the most famous surfing spot on the globe.
John John Florence was knocked out in the quarter finals at Portugal but he still has the upper hand in the race for a second straight crown.
"I get to go home now and I'm really excited to go surf Pipe and hopefully we get some good waves," the Hawaii icon said.
"If I win at home it will be even more meaningful."
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Final Results:
1 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.26
2 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.94
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.83 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.56
SF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.10 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.24
MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 7.50 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 7.40
QF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.00 def. John John Florence (HAW) 3.80
QF 3: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.50 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 8.44
QF 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.33 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 3.17
WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (after MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal):
1 - John John Florence (HAW) 53,350 pts
2 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 50,250 pts
3 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 47,600 pts
4 - Julian Wilson (AUS) 45,200 pts
5 - Owen Wright (AUS) 39,850 pts
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