MORGAN Cibilic put in a big performance of power surfing to beat Hawaiian great John John Florence for the second time in a row to put himself into the quarter finals of the Narrabeen Cup.
Although Gabriel Medina scored a 9.0 for a huge aerial in the heat before, the commentators said Cibilic's surfing was as good as any in the competition, built on traditional power and big turns.
After the win, head World Surf League commentator Joe Turpel said Cibilic had to be considered in the running for this year's world champion.
With series leader Italo Ferreira knocked out in the following heat by US surfer Conner Coffin, Cibilic must now be among the favourites to take the Narrabeen event.
He meets Gabriel Medina in the second quarter final - they met in the semi-finals at Newcastle, with Medina winning.
Today, Cibilic beat Florence with a 7.17 followed up by an 8.53 for a total of 15.73 to easily overpower the Hawaiian dual world champion, whose 6.0 and 5.77 gave him a two-wave total of 11.77.
Both Cibilic's scoring waves were lefts on his backhand. The 8.53 began with a massive "blow-tail" top turn re-entry that pushed the back third of the board completely out of the water, bringing the commentators alive on an afternoon when many of the heats have been punctuated by flat spots.
"Backhand turns don't come much better than that," was co-commentator Richie Lovett's appraisal.
The swell started to pick up during Cibilic's heat, and the outside Narrabeen left broke for what the commentators said was the first time during the contest.
In an interview played on the World Surf League broadcast during the heat, Cibilic said he had been "falling off a lot" as he was qualifying for the championship tour, but after training with coach Jay "Bottle" Thompson he "eventually got better".
Commentator Ronnie Blakey said Cibilic had "had his falls, but he's got them all out of the way and he hasn't been falling and that's been one of the keys to his success".
As the heat wound down with Cibilic in front, the commentators said Florence would have to go to the air to beat him.
But the waves did not come and Cibilic, with priority, took the final wave that came through during the heat, and while it did not add to his score, it kept Florence from adding to his modest total.
Medina's 9.0 in the previous heat was the biggest score of the day for a massive full-rotation air at the end of a right-hander on his backhand, that the commentators said was a solid "six foot" above the top of the wave.
He "comboed" his fellow Brazilian, Ciao Ibelli, by 14 points to 4.83.
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