It was pretty unanimous, but at the start of the year, if you asked anyone on Tour who the most deadly competitor there was at the moment, they'd say: Gabriel Medina. The 2014 World Champ had the chops to win at absolutely any wave on Tour, had little to no weakness, was a cutthroat competitor in the water and had the audacity to literally land backflips in heats.
Shortly after a heartbreaking Semifinal loss to Jack Freestone in Brazil, and following three lackluster results in Australia, Gabby was due to show his true colors. Which is exactly where the Fiji Pro came in.
In absolutely picture-perfect Cloudbreak, Medina dismantled his competition, out-surfing each opponent he faced with lethal combinations of tubes, carves, and full rotation alley-oops. Which pretty much had most of the tour asking themselves, 'How can you compete with that?'
In Round Four, he dropped a perfect 10-point ride, weaving through an impossibly long Cloudbreak tube, while Kelly Slater, who posted a couple 10's of his own, set the stage for their inevitable Semifinal matchup.
But indeed even in the Semis against a visibly refreshed and in-form Kelly Slater, Gabby snuffed the man out. He then went on to beat World No.1 Matt Wilkinson for the Fiji Pro victory, the win putting Medina back in the game as a clear and present contender for the 2016 World Title. He jumped the ratings, moving up from 9th to 2nd, actually.
"I was just saving my energy for the end because I knew it would be really difficult," said Gabriel Medina, humbly. "Wilko (Matt Wilkinson) has been surfing so incredibly from the first event of the year, I didn't know who could stop this guy. This is his third Final in five stops, so I am really happy to have made this Final against him."