Australian surfer Mick Fanning hasn’t given up on defending his world championship crown despite bowing out in the quarter-final stage at the Fiji Pro and nursing a knee injury.
Fanning is ranked eighth on the men’s standings, and is roughly 6000 competition points back from leader Kelly Slater.
However, the Australian still has six events left to make a surge and he is remaining optimistic – with his form usually strong through the second half of the year.
The Queenslander says he’ll spend some time at home resting and rehabilitating a knee complaint before planning his assault on the next world tour event in South Africa next month.
Fanning was bundled out in 1.5-metre swell in Fiji by American Nat Young in the quarters, after recording a combined wave score of just 7.50 compared to the score of 14.27 posted by his opponent.
Young will face Michael Bourez in one semi-final, after the French Polynesian surfer caused a shock upset against Slater in the quarters – only the fifth time the US legend has lost in a man-on-man heat at Cloudbreak.
In the other semi, Brazilian Gabriel Medina takes on American Kolohe Andino.
Australians Owen Wilson, Taj Burrow (2nd in overall rankings) and Joel Parkinson (3rd) were all eliminated in round five.
Fanning knows he’s going to have to get on his bike if he’s to defend his championship, but is confident he can get things back on track at Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa in July.
“It’s disappointing to go down before the semi-finals, but Nat (Young) has been in really impressive form all event,” said Fanning.
“I’ll take a quarter-finals (finish), but I am really going to need to put some wins on the board soon to put myself back in the race.
“Jeffrey’s Bay next and I’m traditionally pretty strong through the back half of the season. I’m going to head home and work on the knee a bit before heading to South Africa.”