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Fiji Time: 6:15 AM on Tuesday 23 September

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Sally reigns

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

SYDNEY - Sally Fitzgibbons has strengthened her push for a maiden world surfing crown with a second straight tour event victory.

The ever-smiling 23-year-old edged out fellow Australian Stephanie Gilmore 9.00 to 8.73 in the final to win the Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak off Tavarua Island on Thursday.

Fitzgibbons' win follows her last-round triumph over reigning world champion Carissa Moore at the Rio Women's Pro in Brazil.

"I guess wins come in waves for me," she said.

"To win in beach breaks in Rio last week and then in reef breaks in Fiji this week is a huge boost to my confidence."

The result has kept Fitzgibbons at world No.2 on the 2014 rankings, behind only Moore, halfway through the 10-stop tour.

"I knew that I've been surfing well this year and I just needed things to fall my way before the wins started coming," she said.

"Carissa had a huge start to this season, but the year's a long way from being finished. I'm looking forward to the US Open (next round)."

Five-time world champion Gilmore held the lead for most of the final, but had it taken away in the closing stages after Fitzgibbons found an additional wave.

Gilmore had been in good form throughout, toppling South Africa's Bianca Buitendag and compatriot Dimity Stoyle on her way to the decider.

"The surf certainly got tricky there at the end of the day," said Gilmore, who remains third on the rankings.

"It was a pretty slow final and I fell on a couple that I could have capitalised on."

The Fiji event — the first to be held at Tavarua in seven years — was dominated by Australians, with tour rookie Stoyle causing the upset of the round by beating world No.1 Moore in the quarter-finals.

The triumph handed the Sunshine Coast surfer her first ever semi-finals berth, but she failed to get the better of her idol Gilmore and advance to the final.


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