Wilson's thrilling win at Tahiti ignites world title claims
SURFING: Peregian Beach's Julian Wilson claimed a stunning victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti on Monday to ignite his world title claims.
The 28-year-old won his third ever event on the Championship Tour - and first in three years - with a 18.96 to 17.87 result over Brazil's Gabriel Medina in the final.
"It's so special to win. It was such a good final. I'm pretty speechless," he said.
"I'm pretty worn out (but) I'm ecstatic. I'm not going to cry but I feel like crying. I'm just so happy and relieved to finally win an event again."
Wilson's previous triumphs on tour, at Portugal in 2012 and at Hawaii in 2014, also came against Medina.
"It took so many good waves to win this event...and I was lucky enough to get those," he said.
The victory propelled him into world title contention after seven of 11 events.
"That sits nicely (with me). I felt like I was trending in the right direction," he said.
"I'm so happy to be in the mix now and there's so many events left so I'm really looking forward to them.
"I was already enjoying myself on tour but now even more-so."
He moved from eighth to fifth in the standings, behind new leader Jordy Smith, of South Africa.
Earlier in the day, Wilson finished third in his three-man round four heat, won by Hawaii's John John Florence, to be pitched into a do-or-die round five clash.
But he beat compatriot Adrian Buchan 14.24 to 10.60 before toppling France's Joan Duru in the quarter finals 15.16 to 9.00.
Wilson then accounted for Smith in the semi-finals 14.26 to 7.33, before going on with the job against Medina in the final, when he bagged back-to-back nine-point rides to gain the lead after being put in a combination situation.
There was plenty of intensity during the encounter, especially at the start when they jostled for position.
"He's tenacious...we can leave that one out in the water," Wilson said.