Furious fans accused Cincinnati Open organisers of a ticket stitch-up after Emma Raducanu and Serena Williams’ blockbuster meeting was postponed until Tuesday.
The defending US Open champion and 23-time major singles winner were due to face off in the first round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati on Monday, but the hotly anticipated meeting has been pushed back a day. A spokesperson for the tournament said the change was "on account of a number of factors related to scheduling."
An announcement, made last Friday, that the opening round rubber would take place on Monday triggered a flurry of ticket sales, with event organisers rarely announcing match schedules more than 24 hours before they begin due to the uncertain nature of the order of play. So it was no surprise that news of the rescheduling was met with anger by scores of fans who had purchased tickets for the match, which was the pick of the first round at the ATP hardcourt in Ohio.
Several angry ticket buyers claimed the mix-up was “false advertisement” and accused organisers of a ploy to sell out both Monday and Tuesday evening sessions.
“This is so disappointing,” CoachCodyHurley wrote on social media. “After spending HUNDREDS of dollars watching Serena, the schedule gets changed the night before? Been coming to watch Serena Williams play in Cincinnati since the mid 2000’s. Watching the GOAT play one last time would have been a dream come true.”
“Where is Serena? Your CEO said Monday. We have the receipts. This was a false advertisement ploy to get people to buy tickets for Monday and now they have to buy Tuesday as well,” claimed one fan named Katie.
Another fan posted: “Well I just wasted my money for day and night tickets for Monday thinking Serena and Venus was playing LIKE THEY SAID!!”
Another ticket buyer wrote: “I am pretty peeved off. I bought tickets and now had to pay 3x as much for Tuesday tickets. I doubt my Monday tickets will be able to resell. There better be some reimbursement.”
Telegraph Sport has contacted the Cincinnati Open organisers and the Women's Tennis Association for a response.
Williams had already reached world No 1 when Raducanu was born in November 2002 and the 19-year-old Briton has spoken of her excitement ahead of sharing a court with her idol.
With 40-year-old Williams having indicated her plans to retire at some point after the US Open, it is likely to be the first and potentially last meeting between the pair.
“For our careers to have crossed like this, I'm fortunate to be able to play her,” Raducanu said ahead of her Cincinnati debut. “Whatever happens, it will be an incredible experience that I'll surely remember for the rest of my life.
"It will be an exciting match, I'm looking forward to it. It will be an amazing opportunity to play the best tennis player of all time. This will probably be my last opportunity."
Raducanu, who will make her debut at the WTA and ATP hardcourt event, is hoping to find some much-needed form ahead of the defence of her US Open crown.
She suffered a first-round exit in Toronto to Camila Giorgi last week, while she was hampered by hand blisters during her gruelling second-round victory over Camila Osorio at the Citi Open earlier this month, before being knocked out by world No 60 Ludmilla Samsonova in straight sets.
The Briton has had her mixed fortunes since her Flushing Meadows triumph last year, when she won the US Open as a qualifier. Of the 16 tournaments she has played since her iconic win, she has been knocked out by a lower-ranked player 14 times.
Raducanu, however, has cut a defiant figure off the court, having previously claimed she is unfazed by the prospect of losing the 2,000 ranking points she accrued following her US Open victory last year.