Manuel back in the quarters at Rio, awaits Conlogue

For the third time this year, Malia Manuel is into the quarterfinals and she’ll be hoping for back-to-back semifinal appearances when action resumes at the Oi Rio Women’s Pro. Three Hawaii surfers will highlight the quarterfinals after Carissa Moore and Coco Ho also maneuvered their way into the final eight in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Manuel had a bit of a stumble earlier this season at Bells Beach, but other than that, she’s been once again knocking on the door of the top five. Her chances for another semifinal get tougher with an elimination matchup with world No. 2 Courtney Conlogue.

Having to surf a round two heat, Manuel had a big performance against a game Laura Enever. Needing a score to take the lead halfway through the heat, Manuel headed on a left and tagged the lip on her first section. She continued past some white water and unloaded another carve, torquing her body to twist the fins and spark some big spray. She finished with one more turn just before the wave closed out and she rode out of it happily on her way to a 9.00 score. That put her into the lead, but Enever’s earlier 8.17 still kept her squarely in the mix.

One late attempt was nearly enough for Enever, but Manuel narrowly escaped the heat with a 15.60 to 14.27 win. Enever has come up against some hard luck this season and hasn’t won a heat through four events. She started the year strongly on the Qualifying Series with a win at the Australian Open, but that success hasn’t followed her to the Championship Tour.

Though it’s a non-elimination heat, the third round has huge ramifications in these women’s events. A win sends the wahine directly into the quarterfinals and a guaranteed top-five result. Manuel had her hands full with Conlogue and Ho in her heat, but the Wailua product survived a last-second scare to move into the final eight.

Conlogue was the one making the late charge and needed a 7.77 to sneak out the victory. She showed a big hook on her first left turn and added another carve before redirecting right for a pair of wraps. Though it was close, the judges all agreed it was just shy of the requirement for a 6.93 score.

Manuel now has a head-to-head matchup with Conlogue in the quarters. It’s a rematch of their semifinal at Margaret River, which was won by Conlogue on her way to the event title. The Californian earned her spot in this quarterfinal with a win over Kauai rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb in the fourth round. Weston-Webb made her CT debut last season in Rio and will come away this time with the same Equal Ninth result.

Carissa Moore will be looking to maintain her hammerlock on the world title race when she faces wild card Keely Andrew in the quarterfinals. Andrew pulled a round four upset of Johanne Defay and has already won a three-woman heat with Ho and Tyler Wright, so she doesn’t seem intimidated to this point. But a head-to-head with Moore is a different matter entirely.

Ho outlasted Silvana Lima and will face Wright in the quarters. Bianca Buitendag topped Sally Fitzgibbons, who has now lost in round four twice this season after 43 straight quarterfinal appearances, and will take on Lakey Peterson for a spot in the semis.

In the men’s competition, rookie Keanu Asing had the most impressive week of Hawaii’s five competitors. After beating former world champ Joel Parkinson in round two, Asing then took out defending world champ and Brazil native Gabriel Medina in round four. He was eliminated by Bede Durbidge in round five for an Equal Fifth and his best CT finish to date.

Sebastian Zietz won his first-round heat for the third time this season, but he’ll take an Equal 13th after falling to local Jadson Andre in round three. John John Florence had one of the best heats of the contest in his third-round win over Adam Melling, but he’ll settle for an Equal Ninth after losing to Brazilian rookie Italo Ferreira in round five. Dusty Payne was a narrow round three casualty to Mick Fanning and Freddy Patacchia Jr. dropped in round two against Ace Buchan.

A plethora of upsets have placed Filipe Toledo, Matt Wilkinson, Ferreira and Durbidge into the semifinals. Toledo is eyeing his second event win of the season and would put himself just 550 points behind Adriano de Souza for the top of the CT rankings if he were to do so.

Action at Barra de Tijuca could resume today at 7 a.m. local time. Rio de Janeiro is seven hours ahead of Hawaiian Standard Time.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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