I don't normally pay much attention to the early rounds at Slams but it's not everyday you get to see two former world #1's bringing some of their best tennis to the fore.
The day began with Murray putting on another convincing display, this time against Italian Potito Starace; he's still losing his way for large parts of the match, and there's no doubting he'll need to get on top of that if he is to stand a shred of a chance against Djoko and Federer. But I'm beginning be drawn to his philosophy of playing clay-courters like you're on a hard court and hard courters like an old school clay courter.
But the day belonged to Sharapova, Safin and the guy he lost to - a little known Frenchman by the name of Josselin Ouanna. More on him later.
I'm not going to go through the scoreline or the peaks and troughs of the Sharapova-Petrova.
match. The pertinent facts are this:
-- Any remaining doubts I had about the Sharapova serve being a problem were well and truly obliterated. It may never be what it was in the early parts of 2007, but is operating at around 80% - put that together with those firebrand groundstrokes of hers, which are as sizzling as ever, and you have a means of catapulting yourself back in the top ten. No problem. There, I said it.
-- Twas great to see that intensity again. Those Siberian Tiger like eyes. That unyielding desire. Serena has it, but only seems to bring it to the fore in the second week of a Slam. Nadal has it, but you get distracted by how nice a fella he is, not to mention the niceness of his supposed 'rivalry' with Federer. No, it's only Maria who has that singular focus in every single match she plays, even when she's being thrashed as badly as she was in the Aussie Open 2007.
-- Twas great also to see the the return of the 'stink eye'. The look Serena sometimes gives to opponents she doesn't, let's say, hold in high esteem. As far as I'm concerned there's only one other woman on tour who delivers 'the eye' as well as Serena, and that's Maria. Let's just say I don't think Maria and Nadia play Bridge together.
-- On that note, wouldn't it be nice to see Rafa deliver the odd stink-eye? Not to Federer maybe - that'd be a shock to the system. But come on, not even to Robin Soderling? I'm sure I've seen Roger deliver the odd dagger-eye to Djoko. Come on Rafa, it goes with the territory.
-- Nadia Petrova has the most underrated serve on tour.
-- We got a laugh and a smile from Maria at the end of the match. Not the one she gives at countless photoshoots. This was heartfelt stuff. I get the feeling the hiatus may have been a blessing in disguise as it may have reignited her love of the game. I seem to remember her, prior to the injury, balking at the suggestion she might play through to her late twenties, almost as if the grind may be beneath her. Maybe now she really will.
And so we come to our second near-epic of the day. Again, go read the broadsheets and the tabloids if you want to know what happened. Don't think I could do much justice anyway. Suffice to say, it was a standard five setter where Safin cedes a hard earnt break in the final set and with it the match. Except, not quite.
-- Sure Safin lost again. But this was a different Marat we were seeing. I'm really hoping someone else saw what I saw, because I think maybe the fact that this was going to be his last ever appearance at RG, pushed him into bringing something a little extra.
-- And it showed, not just in his game, but in his victory gestures and his body language.
-- No racquets were broken or even swatted that much in that last set.
-- Safin riling up the pro-Ouanna crowd by insisting that lines be double checked, and then immediately finding his way back into their good books by kissing the net after a net-cord that went in his favour?
-- Safin doing Djoko-like chest pumps? Directly at Ouanna? I've never seen him like this and I loved every second of it.
-- Safin fist pumping, at every opportunity it seemed. Positivity being scraped off the courts while they were being prepared during the changeovers. Why'd you wait so long to show us this side of you Marat?
-- Unreal serving. Both first and second serves. Instrumental in those match points he did manage to save.
-- And yet he lost. I'll miss you Marat. Please don't give up.
-- But there was a reason this match was as great as it was and that's the guy on the other side of the net. All I can say is where have you been Josselin?
-- It's about time we had another French player strutting and styling his way up the rankings alongside Simon, Monfils, Gasquet and Jo-Willy. And this guy seems a combination of some of the best of the rest.
-- His forehand is extremely Reeshard like in execution. Right up to the way in which he finishes by jumping up, like he's delivering a stylish, powerful, but very well-timed upper cut. And it's as powerful as anything James Blake hits your way.
-- Single handed backhand watch: Josselin Ouanna. At first I didn't like it very much - he didn't seem to have the confidence to use it, slicing most everything that came his way.
-- But even those slices had purpose. He was knitting a very large, complex web with which to hopefully net Safin with. And those slices were an integral part of that. Check out the backhand slice he passes Safin up the line with if you get a chance. Deftly executed and feather light in touch.
-- Just when Safin may have thought his backhand was the weaker wing. He started producing winners by hitting over the ball. No more pansying around with those slices anymore. This was brutal (his stroke execution is not dissimilar to James Blake) but so stylish. So French.
-- I don't often jump on to bandwagons too soon. But I think I might at least start following young Josselin. Apparently he's beaten up on Jo-Willy on the practice court. Not that hard to believe.