Oahu, Hawaii: Surfings world title battle is down to two after Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina won their way into round four of the season-ending Pipe Masters in Hawaii.
Queenslander Wilson and series leader Medina both survived tough round-three heats but Felipe Toledos championship hopes were dashed by 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.
The season is expected to be decided on Tuesday (AEDT) with Wilson crowned world champion if he wins the event and Medina fails to make the final.
Should Medina be eliminated in the quarter-finals or worse Wilson will be world champion if he qualifies for the final.
The fact Wilson is even in contention for his maiden world title is impressive after he ruptured the AC joint in his shoulder in January.
I feel excited. Im ready. I feel like my injury and my years kind of all coming together at the right time, the 30-year-old said.
Wilsons third-round opponent Miguel Pupo had a chance to eliminate the Australian with a wave in the final minute of their showdown but his wipeout allowed the world No.2 to progress.
I kind of just took all the experience I have and let Pipes Backdoor decide my destiny, Wilson said.
I just put myself in position, gave myself chances, never gave up.''
Wilson will face veteran countryman Joel Parkinson, in his final event as a full-time competitor, and Yago Dora in the fourth round at Pipeline.
Its such a special wave for him [Parkinson] and hes saying goodbye this year, and Im hoping to win a world title, Wilson said.
Brazilian Medina survived a mini-scare of his own to claim a come-from-behind heat win over local Seth Moniz.
Toledo, who went into the event level on points with Wilson, was no match for seven-time Pipe Masters winner Slater in the final heat of the day.
In other third-round heats, Parkinson defeated Kanoa Igarashi to maintain his push for a fourth Triple Crown of Surfing title and fellow Australian Ryan Callinan overcame Italo Ferreira.
Wade Carmichael, Connor OLeary and Matt Wilkinson were eliminated with the latter losing his spot on the top-tier World Surf League tour.
Revered among the surfing fraternity, the Triple Crown is a series of three events surfed on a trio of Hawaiis biggest breaks – two on the secondary tour and the third at the championship tours finale at Pipeline.
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