ALEX HEINKE reports.
Mick Fanning has missed a big chance to leap to the top of the World Surf League standings, eliminated by lowly-ranked Spaniard Aritz Aranburu at the Tahiti Pro.
The Australian appeared out of form in the third-round at the iconic reef break of Teahupo’o on Tuesday, only managing scores of 5.17 and 1.50 to lose comprehensively to the 39th-ranked Aranburu.
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For Fanning, it was a golden opportunity missed in his first event back since fighting off a shark at Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa.
Fellow Australian Julian Wilson is now the best place to take over the top spot.
Of the other Australians in round three, Kai Otton edged out compatriot Bede Durbidge 13.13 to 12.00, Owen Wright was in great form recording 18.23 to beat Hawaiian Dusty Payne (15.70) and Matt Wilkinson (8.66) was thrashed by Wiggolly Dantas (16.83).
Australians Josh Kerr, Adrian Buchan, Joel Parkinson and Wilson face third-round heats later on Tuesday.