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Yes, Gabriel Medina Is Saving His Best for Last

Gabriel Medina, as fútbol (soccer) pundits like to say, is in the mood. It's a nod to an athlete at the top of his game looking to punish his counterpart. Never one to underestimate his opponents, such is the nature of his tactical prowess, Medina takes big moments seriously.

Former World Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil advances to the Semifinals of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal after defeating 3X World Champion Mick Fanning of Australia in Quarterfinal Heat 4 at Supertubos, Peniche, Portugal. Gabriel Medina's European rampage has moved him all the way up to No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard, directly behind John John Florence with one event to go, at Pipeline. WSL / Damien Poullenot

The European leg as a whole is a massive moment for the Brazilian, who has jumped five spots up the Jeep Leaderboard in Europe, to No. 2. Heading to France, his Title hopes looked slim after what's undoubtedly been an inconsistent year. Just when it looked like he was gaining traction, he suffered another 13th at the Hurley Pro at Trestles in September. A rebound was required to keep any whiff of a Title shot alive.

Medina Rushes Open Door at MEO Rip Curl Pro
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The Brazilian blitzes into his second straight Final in Europe, jumping firmly into contention for the 2017 World Title.

Medina answered the call, stepping it up a level and then some -- winning the Quiksilver Pro France convincingly earlier this month, and defeating No. 1 John John Florence in the Semifinals for good measure. That win in Hossegor put Medina back in the Title hunt.

Medina's Moves Against Florence Please the Crowd
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The 2014 World Champ pulled one of the most remarkable moves of the event during his semifinal clash with John John Florence.

Medina has a history of good results in France, but the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal has been a different story. His best-ever finish was a 2nd place to winner Julian Wilson back in 2012 (his first full season on the CT), along with a couple of Quarterfinal round exits since then. Now, with an entire season in the balance, Medina has shaken up that record with a win in Peniche, and forced the World Title chase to Hawaii at the Billabong Pipe Masters.

Gabriel Medina (BRA) placed 1st in Heat 12 of Round Three at Meo Rip Curl Pro 2017, Peniche, Portugal Gabriel Medina, in the mood. WSL / Damien Poullenot

The Brazilian was taking care of business in Portugal from the start. Earlier in the event, prior to his Round Three clash with Ethan Ewing, he was dead serious, astutely aware of the task at hand, like a boxer moving through his pre-fight ritual. After his heat, he acknowledged as much, telling the WSL, "Ethan's so good, in these waves you can get two 9s on two waves. You can't give in."

Medina's Late Season Surge Continues
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Gabriel Medina defeats rookie Ethan Ewing in Round Three of the MEO Rip Curl Pro.

Medina got hyper-focused after watching John John Florence fall to Kolohe Andino in the Quarterfinals, crushing the bottom half of the leaderboard with wins over Mick Fanning, Kanoa Igarashi and Julian Wilson on his way to victory. It was sweet payback for Gabe, who still hasn't forgot the 2014 Final with Julian. But the sweeter part, obviously, is that now he can legitimately think about another World Title. And it should be noted, Medina's record at Pipe is pretty darn good.

It was an exclamation point on the end of an intense day where many of the Brazilian's fellow Title chasers were tossed by the wayside. But not Gabriel. Not when he's in this kind of mood.

Gabriel Medina (BRA) won his heat 2 Semi Final at Quiksilver Pro France 2017 in Hossegor, France Another win in France for Gabriel Medina, a place where he's nearly unstoppable. WSL / Laurent Masurel
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