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Brazilian Adriano de Souza claimed his second World Championship Tour event for the year when he defeated Bede Durbidge in the semifinals and then Kelly Slater in the final of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
The diminutive de Souza capitalized on a rare Slater mistake early in the final and had the ten times world champion chasing a good scoring wave for the rest of the clash.
"It was going to come down to whoever got the good waves," said a frustrated Slater after the presentation, "I had priority and it was in my hands and I took the wrong wave. I just, I blew it, I blew it. It was a dumb mistake."
While Slater, who beat Taj Burrow to get to the final, was feeling he had let a final slip by, Adriano de Souza was reveling in the attention from the Portuguese fans. After an early exit in the French event, he'd arrived in Peniche before any of the other Top 34 surfers. He had settled in, eating food similar to his homeland of Brazil, speaking the same language and surfing Supertubos at every chance.
"I've had great fun during the last two weeks here in Portugal," explained de Souza surrounded by adoring fans, "I surfed more than any one (in the Top 34) so I think all that hard work helped me win this contest."
There is a very intense rivalry between Slater and de Souza that came out in Puerto Rico last year when Slater was going for his 10th world title and this year at Trestles. In Puerto Rico, the pair met in the three-man round four clash in a hassle filled heat; Slater was awarded an interference over de Souza. The pair met again in the semi finals where Slater completely dominated de Souza. Then there was a quick volley they exchanged at Tresltes in September. Today the tension showed with the pair side by side at times, at others spread out across the line up. De Souza showed Slater some respect today, knowing that the barreling lefts and rights could throw up excellent scoring waves.
|Had Slater landed this alley-oop it could have been another story.|
"Kelly is amazing in any kind of conditions," said de Souza paying his rival a compliment, "He can almost get a 10 on any wave that comes through and I felt very tense during the whole heat. I tried to clam down, but leading a heat against Kelly for such a long time made it very hard for me to concentrate. In a way I've very glad that there weren't so many waves for the final."
While de Souza was grateful for the lack of waves, Slater was frustrated by the conditions.
"It was a dropping swell and a rising tide," said Slater about the lack of waves and the outcome of the final, "I knew it was going to be a wave catching contest and he was on the better end of it. All day the second wave of the sets were best and I was hesitant, anyways. Adriano actually paddled over it while I had priority and I thought in my head 'I haven't wasted anything if I don't catch this wave,' and I just went, 'oh I'll just go, I'll just get the heat started.' I turned around and he got that nine. My wave was no good, so really that was the difference in the heat. You know it's hard not to be frustrated right now. I'm sure by tonight I'll have let it go but you know right now I'm so peeved off," he added, with a laugh.
|How much have we seen that flag this year already?|
Slater, who copped a lot of criticism from his fellow Top 34 competitors for his 'no show' in the Jeffreys Bay event in July, will have the last laugh sometime in the next six weeks. His world title rivals are dropping out of the race. Right now Owen Wright and de Souza are the only two guys left in the running. If Slater gets better than a ninth place finish in the Rip Curl Search in San Francisco next month he will clinch his 11th World Title.RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL FINAL RESULTS: