- WSL / Damien Poullenot

Leonardo Fioravanti has pulled out of the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira and Challenger Series events due to an ankle injury. The Italian initially sustained the injury during the Rottnest CT event and will now require surgery to be fit for the 2022 season.

"I tried to do everything possible to rehab it without surgery but to come back to 100% my medical team suggested it was best to get the surgery," wrote Fioravanti on Instagram. "Injuries suck but it's part of the game and I know i will come back stronger. "

The forced layoff comes after Fioravanti has enjoyed the best year of his career. Having won the first Surf-Off at Pipeline to retain his CT status, he made the Quarterfinals in the Pipe Masters. A poor start to the Australian leg saw him flirt with relegation before a 9th place at Rottnest kickstarted his year. Another 9th at the Surf Ranch, followed by a career-best Semifinal finish in Mexico saw him end the year as the World No.13. It was the first time he had requalified through the CT.

However, the surgery remains a blow for a surfer desperate to compete and win on European soil. Having a house in Ericeira, just a stone's throw from the break of Ribeira d'Ilhas, Fioravanti would have been one of the favorites for MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira. He will also miss out on the Quiksilver Pro France, held in Hossegor, his adopted home since he moved from Rome as a teenager.

On the positive side, Fioravanti is no stranger to injury and the intense rehab that comes with surgery. He recovered after breaking two vertebrae at Pipeline in 2015 to make the CT in 2017. In 2019 he dislocated his shoulder midway through this season. That required surgery and four months out of the water, but he returned to make the semifinals at Quik Pro France in his first event back.

Now he'll be concentrating on recovery so he can build on the success of 2021, starting with the season kick off at the Billabong Pro Pipeline in January 2022.

ERICEIRA, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonardo Fioravanti of Italy winning Elimination Round Heat 2 of the MEO Portugal Cup of Surfing on September 30, 2020 in Ericeira, Portugal. (Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League via Getty Images) Leonardo Fioravanti at Ribeira d'Ilhas - WSL / Damien Poullenot

The MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira runs from October 2 - 10, 2021. Keep it locked right here on WorldSurfLeague.com for all the action.

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