Fanning survives scare to keep fairytale alive

Fanning survives scare to keep fairytale alive

Mick Fanning has survived a fourth round scare to keep his fairytale career swansong alive at Bells Beach.

Fanning's last hurrah at Bells Beach will continue into the quarter-finals as the draw opens up for a potential dream finale.

Fanning has progressed by eliminating dangerous countryman Matt Wilkinson in the fourth round, finishing 0.33 points ahead of American Patrick Gudauskas in the three-man heat on Tuesday.

The three-time world champion will face Owen Wright for a place in the final four of the Rip Curl Pro, with the pair the only Australians remaining in the draw.

Fanning's prospects of ringing the bell for a fifth time before he ends his celebrated his career have been boosted by the surprise third-round elimination of John John Florence.

The reigning world champion was convincingly beaten by fellow Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau, enduring the same third-round fate as world No.1 Julian Wilson and Bells Beach title defender Jordy Smith.

Australian rookie Wade Carmichael, who shocked South African Smith a day earlier, was knocked out in the fourth round as Wright and Tahitian Michel Bourez qualified from the three-man heat.

Locals Joel Parkinson and Adrian Buchan lost in the third round.

Fanning has not won an event since the 2016 J-Bay Open in South Africa having returned a year after being attacked by a shark.

The Aussie has a chance of bowing out of surfing with the number one world ranking after his pet event.

With AAP