In a personal best and massive upset win, Nikki Van Dijk eliminated fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons from the Cascais Women's Pro in their Semifinal heat. Not only was it a huge coup for Van Dijk, who arrived in Cascais ranked World No. 7, but it also threw a huge wrench into the already-tight World Title race.
With her major opponent -- World No. 2 Courtney Conlogue -- already eliminated from the event, Fitzgibbons had a wide-open door with which to step through and put some distance between herself and the rest of the Title chase pack. Yet while she gained some ground on Conlogue who exited in Round Four, losing in the Semis was still short of what Fitzgibbons had in mind for herself. She and Van Dijk surfed a close heat battling it out all the way down to the final minutes, but in the end it was the latter who triumphed, by a mere 0.16 of a point.
"It's a bit tough at the moment," Fitzgibbons said afterward. "I really thought I'd done enough coming in from that heat. It was one of those heats that I thought I surfed really well, so to hear those scores and not come in with the win is a challenge, but something I'll learn from. It felt good that my surfing stepped up from the Quarterfinals, but it just wasn't to be today."
Van Dijk went on to win the event -- a career first for her. Fitzgibbons remains ranked No. 1 and will wear the Jeep Leader's jersey into the next contest, the Roxy Pro France, which begins in just a few days.