Hang around surf contests long enough and you'll hear somebody utter, "This heat should be the Final."
Such is the case with the impending superheat featuring World No. 1 Gabriel Medina vs. World No. 2. Italo Ferreira. Given that there's a rookie and wildcard in the other Semifinal, not only could it be the Final of the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona, but it could be a preview of how the 2021 World Title is eventually won at the Rip Curl WSL Finals.
So, before the action gets underway at Strickland Bay, the stakes are this: Medina is in pole position on the WSL Leaderboard by 4,770 points. If Ferreira can knock him out in the Semis and go on to win the event, he'll close the gap considerably rolling into the back half of the Tour.
Surprisingly, Ferreira owns the matchup with a 7-3 record against Medina. Given Ferreira's propensity for spontaneity and the competitive ice that runs through Medina's veins, one would would expect that stat to be more even, but Ferreira won their first four Championship Tour heats before Medina cracked the code. Since then they're 3-3 against one another.
Throughout their history, Ferreira has averaged a point higher in the heats they've surfed against one another -- a fact we saw play out in their Final in the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona, which Ferreira won by a point and a half.
That said, Medina does get the nod in both highest heat score and highest single wave score. Truly bringing the best out in one another, Medina has posted a near-perfect 19.50 heat (the Final at J-Bay in 2019) against Ferreira, who's highest heat against Medina is an impressive 18.27 (the Quarterfinals in Portugal in 2015).
As individual wave scores go, Medina's got the edge with a 9.77 to Ferreira's 9.67.
Plus, Medina's been far more dominant at Rottnest Island. His highest heat total at Strickland Bay is a 17.00 to Ferreira's 14.70. And Medina already has a nine-point ride to his credit, while Ferreira has yet to post a score in the excellent range.
There's going to be plenty of swell when the contest gets the called on, and without a doubt, all eyes will be locked on what may be the best matchup on the Championship Tour today.