Six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore left it late before finding a way past close friend Laura Enever in an all-Australian second-round encounter of the women's Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.
With only 12 minutes remaining of their knockout clash on Saturday, Gilmore had yet to put a single scoring ride on the scoreboard.
But she got rolling with a high-scoring 8.17-point wave and held on to win 12.10 to 10.50.
Even then, Enever had one final chance to snatch victory when she took off on the final wave of the heat as the hooter sounded, only to come up short.
"I was definitely stressing when I let that set go just before my first wave but luckily one popped up and that was OK and it calmed my nerves for a bit," said Gilmore.
"Bells is a funny one. Sometimes there are decisions you make which you think are awesome at the time and 10 minutes later you don't.
It's always a challenge and I'm happy I figured it out in the end but even then it was really nerve-wracking.
"Laura had that one opportunity and I thought she had it.
"I was pretty disappointed with myself, but I guess it wasn't a really good wave and Laura didn't capitalise."
Two-time Bells winner Sally Fitzgibbons did enough to claim victory over Hawaii's Brisa Hennessy, with the Australian winning 12.67 to 8.73.
It was a timely victory for Fitzgibbons, who was knocked out in the second round of the season-opening event on the Gold Coast.
"It felt really good," said Fitzgibbons.
"That's the first heat win of the season.
"It's those little things, those little challenges and it's a nice relaxing feeling."
The other second-round winners on Saturday were Australians Nikki van Dijk and Bronte Macaulay and Hawaiians Tatiana Weston-Webb and Alessa Quizon.
The third round of the women's competition was taking place later on Saturday.