By Paul Majendie
LONDON (Reuters) - Forget the decorum of genteel Wimbledon. This was a gladiatorial contest with no quarter given - and that was just the crowd.
They didn't quite bray for blood but Roger Federer must have wondered what hit him in his Olympic final against Andy Murray.
Every purple patch of play by Murray prompted pandemonium. The fans whipped themselves into a frenzy of patriotic fervour.
The "Braveheart" Scottish contingent daubed their faces in blue and white paint. Red, white and blue Union Flag bowler hats were dotted round the world's most famous tennis court.
"The gold is yours. This is just a formality," one pro-Murray banner proclaimed in a burst of hyperbole. "Finish it Andy," one fan bellowed. "I love you Andy," cried another.
The crowd could barely believe their eyes when Murray galloped his way through the first set 6-2 and the second set 6-1. That sent them ballistic each time.
They blinked nervously in the summer sunshine, which had vanished, along with Murray's chances, when the skies opened in the players' Wimbledon final exactly four weeks ago. Once the Wimbledon roof came on last month, Federer went into overdrive to claim his seventh Wimbledon title.
Murray, resplendent in his blue Stella McCartney outfit, was given a standing ovation just for walking onto Centre Court behind Federer, who was sporting the red and white colours of the Swiss flag. There wasn't a spare seat in the house.
Huge sighs of relief from the crowd greeted any Federer unforced errors. A Murray smash merited whoops of delight. An errant mobile phone in one tense rally got roundly booed.
With Murray playing out of his skin, they were perched on the edge of their seats. Federer looked dejected, his shoulders down. A Wimbledon crowd had never seen such a sight before.
The British had been waiting since 1936 for a Wimbledon winner. Now they were overjoyed to acclaim an Olympic victor at Wimbledon.
For Murray, it was sweet revenge for the Wimbledon Grand Slam defeat that had provoked a flood of tears from the Scotsman.
Each point of Murray's last service game was agony for the crowd. They erupted with joy when he won with an ace.
Murray looked as shocked as the crowd. He rushed up in the stands to hug his girlfriend Kim and his mother Judy. Federer walked off, wondering what had happened. It was all over.
(editing by Michael Holden)