Knee sinks Parko
AUSTRALIA'S hopes for a men's surfing world title this year nosedived yesterday with former world No.2 Joel Parkinson pulling out of the Quiksilver Pro in Japan, ending his title aspirations.
Parkinson, fifth on current tour ratings, followed medical advice and withdrew from the contest with a grade three medial ligament tear in his knee from a free-surfing accident a few days ago.
Parkinson flew home to Australia immediately and has just over one week to be ready for the next event at Trestles in California.
The injury setback leaves just two Australians in the hunt for the 2005 title with Scotts Head surfer Trent Munro and Coolangatta's Mick Fanning third and fourth in the ratings respectively.
Both breathed life back into their campaigns yesterday winning their second-round heats in 2m waves at Malibu beach to join runaway ratings leader Kelly Slater and defending world champ Andy Irons in the third round today.
Munro posted the day's highest heat score of 17.67 in defeating local wildcard Kenta Hayashi (8.77 points) while Fanning (14.00) beat another wildcard Hideyoshi Tanaka (7.47).
Fanning, winner at the Gold Coast and Reunion Island already this year, is confident he can put in a solid performance in the typhoon-affected waves in Japan and reel in the American leaders.
"I'm feeling good at the moment," he said.
"I've been training really hard. Everything has been going really well and I have some good boards. Hopefully I'll get there."
Irons will seek revenge in his third-round clash today with Californian young gun Dane Reynolds who eliminated Aust- ralia's Luke Egan yesterday.
Reynolds beat Irons at Trestles last year and knows the triple world champ holds a grudge over defeats and is always keen for payback.
"Coming up against Andy next isn't going to be easy," Reynolds said.
In his first event since an ankle injury at Teahupoo, Sydney's Toby Martin beat West Australian Jake Paterson while veteran Mark Occhilupo was too strong for American Tim Curren. Nathan Hedge, Troy Brooks, Danny Wills and Lee Winkler were the other Australians to advance to round three yesterday. -AAP