Fansunite 1 year ago

Wilkinson chases Tahiti turnaround

  • Wilkinson chases Tahiti turnaround

    Australian surfer Matt Wilkinson could boost his title hopes if he turns his Tahiti form around.

Australian Matt Wilkinson will need to overcome an horrific record at the Tahiti Pro to maintain his control of the World Surf League.

Wilkinson has reached the quarter-finals just once in six visits to the island and will be aiming to reach at least the final eight for the first time since 2011 when the pro tour reaches Teahupoo on Friday (Saturday AEST).

He currently holds a steady 3,350-point lead over his nearest rival, however that could quickly come undone if he falls early at the tournament.

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The 27-year-old has failed to make it past the third round in the past four years, including a disappointing 2012 visit where he lost both first and second-round heats to bow out in straight sets.

However Wilkinson is a different customer so far this season after six of the 11 rounds.

He won the opening two events in Australia and reached the final of the Fiji Pro in June to claim more than $280,000 in prize money.

That should ensure him an easier passage through the opening rounds, where he will meet fellow Australian Stuart Kennedy and a qualifier in his first heat.

Kennedy and Wilkinson are two of 12 Australians competing at the event, which is notably without 2014 winner Mick Fanning after his success at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa last month.

Fanning jumped to fifth in the rankings after that win but will likely tumble down the list as he once again begins to skip events through his personal year.

The only other Australian to taste success in recent years in Tahiti, Adrian Buchan, will line up alongside countryman Joel Parkinson in their first-round heat.

Australia's only other title contender, Julian Wilson, will face France's Jeremy Flores and Nat Young of the United States in his first-round heat.

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