It was a roller coaster day at the Billabong Pro today in Rio. There were massive upsets and explosive performances from the top seeds and the rookies. It all started with Glenn Hall posting a huge win and upsetting current world champion Joel Parkinson. Parko struggled to find a decent wave in the shifty beachbreak conditions as Hall picked off two decent waves to take the heat. Hall definitely used the conditions to his advantage and wave selection played a key role in his victory.
"I hope he can have a good result here and this makes his year more solid," said Parko afterwards.
Hawaii's Sebastian Zietz put on an incredible performance against Julian Wilson as he came from behind in the dying minutes to post a 9.37 and advance. Obviously feeling in rhythm, Seabass used his momentum to beat Michel Bourez in round four and earn himself a place in the quarterfinals.
"I was just trying to make the Quarters here in Brazil, that was my goal, so I'm happy," said Zietz. This will be his his first quarterfinal as a world tour surfer. "Hopefully I can break through to the Semis or even a final."
The Brazilian contingency is going strong with three surfers still in the mix. Adriano de Souza is looking very motivated to take back-to-back wins, while Gabriel Medina is also looking really strong as he comes off of a nagging ankle injury and wants to ignite his 2013 season with a win on his home turf. Then there's Felipe Toledo, who put on a crazy display of aerial surfing, posting one of the day's two perfect 10-point rides. Stomping a huge ally-oop, the landing a front side air 360 on the same wave, before he knew it Toledo was into the quarters.
"That was my first perfect 10 on the tour and I'm at a loss for words right now," said Toledo. "I can't even describe how I'm feeling ... I went for the first big air and I was so happy that I made it, I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to do another one.' I had that other section and I made the second air. I'm so excited right now, I don't know what to say."
To be expected, Kelly Slater demonstrated that he came to Brazil for a reason. To start the day, in round three he posted huge scores, riding deep in the barrel and launching giant airs. He stumbled in round four, but nobody's a loser in that round, so he just moved on to round five. There he met an in form Taj Burrow in heat that held world title implications. Slater rose to the occasion, stomping one of the best airs of the day to score an 8.5 and take the win to advance to the quarters.
"Taj (Burrow) definitely brings the best out in me," said Slater, who will now face De Souza in the first heat of the day tomorrow. "I didn't want to surf, the waves were terrible and the waves ended up getting good out there. Taj just had a couple of heats where he wanted to surf this year and the call didn't go his way. He was decisive and I didn't want to surf. They took a poll and the guys wanted to surf, so we went ahead with it.Taj started off with that barrel and I knew I had to do something. Luckily I was able to get that air reverse."
Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith and Ace Buchan also did what they had to do to put themselves in contention come the final day. Even with the swell expected to drop overnight, tomorrow should bring an exciting final day of competition as all of the surfers are in excellent form. There's a great mix of rookies and veterans, they'll all be battling to win, and by this time tomorrow the world title race is going to be a lot more interesting.
BILLABONG RIO PRO ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.10 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.50
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 13.13 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.17
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.00 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 7.14
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.40 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 11.77
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.94 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 6.83
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.97 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 10.01
Heat 7: Glenn Hall (IRL) 12.33 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.83
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.43 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.17
Heat 9: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 17.47 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.34
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.43 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.67
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.17 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 9.00
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.53 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 13.33
BILLABONG RIO PRO ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.90, Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.30, Nat Young (USA) 5.57
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.77, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.41, Kelly Slater (USA) 7.33
Heat 3: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.10, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.84, Glenn Hall (IRL) 6.05
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.43, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.83, Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.20
BILLABONG RIO PRO ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.10 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.03
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.20 def. Nat Young (USA) 11.20
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.83 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 2.86
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.43 def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 13.63
UPCOMING BILLABONG RIO PRO QUARTERFINALS MATCH UPS:
QF 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
QF 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
QF 3: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)
QF 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)