Olympics-bound Julian Wilson has achieved a breakthrough result for 2021 at the World Surf League event at Rottnest Island.
The Australian defeated South African veteran Jordy Smith in the opening heat of the day at Strickland Bay on Friday to qualify for his first quarter-final of this year's world title race.
In a tightly-contested heat, Wilson's two-wave score of 13.00 out of 20 was enough to eliminate Margaret River Pro runner-up Smith (11.20) and move into the last eight.
"I feel like I've gotten over a big lump just there," Wilson said.
"I'm excited to throw some airs and make some big scores.
"I'm really happy with how well my strategy worked and just happy to win that heat."
In a truncated day where just three heats could be completed before conditions forced organisers to halt competition, Wilson was one of three Australians to successfully reach the quarters.
Newcastle's Morgan Cibilic will take on Wilson for a spot in the semi-finals after eliminating Italian Leonardo Fioravanti.
There was also another win for injury replacement Liam O"Brien as he defeated American Seth Moniz to reach the last eight at his first world tour event.
"I wasn't really expecting to make a heat at this competition, so I'm stoked to have made it this far," the Gold Coast rider said.
"That was a really tough heat and it sucks when there isn't a heap of opportunity, but sometimes that happens in surfing.
"It ended up being pretty tactical. I made a couple of mistakes, Seth made a couple of mistakes, then I got lucky and ended up coming out on top."
O'Brien will next face the winner of the fourth heat between France's Michel Bourez and Brazil's Miguel Pupo.
Other Australians aiming to reach the quarter-finals include Owen Wright, who'll face two-time world champion Gabriel Medina, Mikey Wright and Connor O'Leary.
Organisers will make their next call at 7.15am AWST on Saturday with more promising conditions forecast, with competition to resume with the remaining men's round of 16 heats.
Australian Associated Press