A timeless Kelly Slater performance and state-of-the-art surfing from Filipe Toledo will see the two meet in a fascinating Quarterfinal matchup the Corona Bali Protected. Kelly overtook the powerful Michel Bourez in their Round of 16 match-up while in a seperate heat, a five-minute spell by Toledo saw him yet again post the day's highest heat total in a win over Ryan Callinan.
"Michel Bourez had me on the ropes. I knew I needed to get my best score of the year to win that heat, but I'm on the up," the GOAT said after his victory. "Now I'm up against Filipe Toledo. I'm going to go smash that guy, although I'm going to need bigger scores to win."
Slater surfed with his timeless precision and power. Executing an elongated roundhouse cutback, while of one of surfing's most traditional moves, showed that Kelly is still capable of drawing different lines than the rest of the field on the slick Keramas walls.
His best wave -- a late-heat 7.53, his top score of the year -- then showed that his ability to find tubes where no one else can remains unsurpassed. Unlike at Bells where he also made the Finals Day, the 47-year-old goes into the Quarterfinals in his best form since he broke his foot at Jeffreys Bay in 2017.
"For me, I'm able to relax once I make it to the Quarters," Kelly said. "I'll be a little bit giddy in the next one because it's exciting and the waves are good. I didn't start my day like I normally do. I got too excited and went out for a surf and missed breakfast and my meditation routine. But I know that kind of stuff doesn't win you the heat. You just have to adjust."
Filipe Toledo on the other hand looked dangerously relaxed. In an early opening exchange in his heat with Ryan Callinan, he channeled his inner Mason Ho with a cross-step floater. It didn't receive big points, but it forecast that Toledo was calm and in the mood to entertain. In a five-minute spell he did that and more -- his best scoring wave in particular showing that in terms of high performance combinations, no one does it better.
"The first few waves I was just trying to get some solid waves on the board, but it didn't really happen," Toledo said. "But when that one wave came through I was like, 'Okay it's my turn'. I had to make it happen and I did."
The Brazilian's event average heat total is now 15.05, a good one-and-a-half points clear of any of the other Quarterfinalists. In yet another day of high-profile upsets at Keramas, Toledo now stands as the only current Top Five rated surfer left in the event.
"I feel bummed for guys like Italo, Gabriel, John and Jordy because we are always super close and we cheer for each other," he said referring to his rivals' early exits. "But when it comes to the World Title, it's a game. Now, it's game on."
First though, Toledo will have to overcome a certain Kelly Slater who has been gathering momentum by winding back the clock. The 11x World Champ knows Toledo will be his biggest challenge so far, but you sense he's rediscovered the potent mix of mayhem, mischief and mojo that makes him the GOAT.
"So when those little bits of magic happen," Slater prophesied after the heat, "something good is happening." We may just see more of that magic in what could be the most exciting heat on an epic Finals Day.
Notables From Day 5 Of The Corona Bali Protected:
-The last time Slater and Toledo met in competition was at the 2018 Pipeline Masters, where Kelly handed Filipe a Round 3 exit in raw Pipe conditions. See the condensed heat replay of that matchup here: Slater takes to Toledo at Pipeline.
-In yet another upset, Italian Leonardo Fioravanti got his 2019 season back on track defeating defending World Champ Gabriel Medina in the Round of 32. "I made a few mistakes trying to get barreled, but to surf pumping waves like this and beat the World Champ, I feel blessed and am so happy," Fioravanti said. "This is a really big win for me. I've had a few injuries and have been struggling with form, but I'm feeling really good now so I hope I can start finding some results."
-It was a stellar day for the Tour veterans with Slater, Adrian Buchan and Jeremy Flores all progressing to the Quarterfinals. Flores win over Jack Freestone in particular was one of the best heats of the day. "It's so crowded everywhere, so to surf the best waves in the world with one other guy out well, as a surfer, it doesn't get any better than that," said Flores. "Jack won the Red Bull Airborne and is the man right now. I thought about going to the air for a second because to beat Jack doing that would be one for the record books. But I stuck to the rail and it worked."