Jack Robinson has declared he's back to peak form as he eyes a maiden world title in the World Surf League finals.
The top-five one-day showdown will again be held at Lower Trestles in southern California, with the competition window opening on Friday.
The West Australian bookended a roller-coaster season with victory in the final tour event in Tahiti last month after opening the year with a win at Hawaii's Pipeline.
In between he suffered a serious knee injury and slipped down the rankings, with his thrilling defeat of three-time world champion Gabriel Medina in the decider at Teahupo'o securing the last spot in the top-five final.
Robinson said he felt he had regained the form that fired him to the yellow leader's jersey with a trio of top-three performances before he was injured at Bells Beach.
"I feel like that now because it just takes a little bit (of time)," Robinson told AAP.
"I watched the events back through the middle of the year and I was just holding back ... I had tape all over my legs and I was thinking, 'When's this going to pass?'.
"Now I've started to forget, which is amazing."
As fifth seed he will take on No.4 Joao Chianca, from Brazil.
The winner will meet the third-ranked Australian Ethan Ewing - who himself has been battling injury.
The victor of that clash goes up against No.2, hometown hope Griffin Colapinto, with top-ranked Brazilian Filipe Toledo, the reigning world champion, laying in wait in a best-of-three-heat showdown.
That means 25-year-old Robinson would need to surf, and win, at least five times to become world champion.
Australian surf queen Stephanie Gilmore showed it was possible in 2022, winning her eighth world title from the No.5 ranking.
Last year, Robinson went into the finals ranked second but was out-surfed by Brazil's Italo Ferreira.
"Any finals day is long ... but there's probably just more energy with this event, there's more people on the beach," Robinson said.
"You can't put too much pressure on yourself, you've got to just enjoy it."
Robinson said he felt comfortable at the famous Californian break, although preparation was difficult because of the huge crowds in the water.
Ewing fractured two vertebrae in a wipe-out before Teahupo'o but the Queenslander travelled to California and was spotted there surfing, showing no obvious signs of discomfort.
"They've kept pretty quiet so I'm not sure ... I saw him the other day and we were stoked to see each other," Robinson said.
"In my mind, I picture him surfing the event because he hasn't pulled out.
"I was there on the day that it happened in Tahiti and it's so hard to take, I know how that feels so it's good to see him around feeling better."
As well as Robinson and Ewing, Australian second seed Tyler Wright and No.4 Molly Picklum are in the mix for the women's title.