Durbidge threatens Slater's 10th
NINE-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater rates world No.2 Bede Durbidge as his biggest threat as he seeks a 10th world crown.
A lack of swell forced organisers of the Quiksilver Pro to call a lay day yesterday but Slater has already stamped his class on the world championship tour event.
The American was his usual flawless self as he cruised through his opening heat at Duranbah Beach on Saturday, easily securing a pass to the third round along with fellow heat one winners Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow.
In fine form, Slater has set himself apart as the man to beat in 2009 after last year's domination of the tour which started off with a win on the Gold Coast.
But the 37-year-old singled out Durbidge as the man who could topple him from his roost.
Durbidge has been on the up and up since debuting five years ago, and has climbed steadily up the ratings from 27th to last year's finish of world No.2.
“Two years ago he started to prove himself, then last year he really socked it to a lot of people,” Slater said. “Now he's the guy that's everyone's scared of as opposed to the dark horse.”
But Slater's words appear to have been the kiss of death for Durbidge, who was beaten by young wildcard Julian Wilson in their opening round heat.
Durbidge will line up in the sudden-death second round when competition resumes.
Others forced into the elimination round included Joel Parkinson, Dean Morrison, Daniel Wills and Corey Ziems.
With conditions expected to improve today, organisers are likely to kick start the women's event, with a decision to be made early this morning.