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First-up surf loss for Wilkinson in US

AAP logoAAP 8/09/2016

Australian Matt Wilkinson will need to survive a do-or-die second-round heat in California to keep pace with world title leader John John Florence.

Wilkinson sits second on the championship leaderboard with four events remaining but finished last in his opening three-man heat at Lower Trestles on Thursday, pushing him into an elimination second round.

Putting more pressure on the 28-year-old, Florence easily accounted for his opening-round rivals to advance to the third-round, while third-ranked Gabriel Medina overcame an interference penalty to win his heat.

If Wilkinson loses in the second round at the Lower Trestles, Medina is guaranteed to overtake him.

In swells of just over a metre, Wilkinson only managed a combined score of 10.10 in his heat, well below the 16.67 mustered by Tanner Gudauskas of the US.

It wasn't all bad news for Australia, though.

Joel Parkinson was the star of the opening round, producing rides of 9.10 and 9.57 for the highest combined score of the day with 18.67.

However it consigned the returning Mick Fanning to a second-round elimination heat, after he could only produce a 13.96 total in reply to Parkinson.

World No.4 Australian Adrian Buchan's score of 15.10 also saw him progress to the third round after he topped his heat, while Jack Freestone and Stuart Kennedy also advanced after claiming round-one victories.

However Wilkinson and Fanning will be joined by compatriots Julian Wilson, Ryan Callinan, Kai Otton, Adam Melling, Matt Banting, Josh Kerr and Davey Cathels after they were all beaten.

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