Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka Forge Mixed Doubles Extravaganza

The Australian Open champions will battle against Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne

by Jovica Ilic
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Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka Forge Mixed Doubles Extravaganza
© Francois Nel / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 1 and ten-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will organize A night with Novak and friends at Melbourne Park on January 11. Novak will join forces with Aryna Sabalenka, Melbourne's reigning women's champion, facing Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling mixed doubles clash.

Djokovic and Sabalenka have been good friends off the court, and they fought for the same team at the World Tennis League in Dubai in December 2022. Novak and Aryna will try to use their chemistry and beat the Greek duo ahead of their Australian Open title defense runs.

Sabalenka claimed her first Major title at last year's Australian Open, prevailing over Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Belarusian played bold and aggressive tennis, hitting 50 winners and 25 unforced errors. Aryna built a slim edge in the mid-range and most advanced rallies, although little separated them throughout the duel.

Sabalenka lost serve from 40-0 in the encounter's third game, pushing her opponent in front. Rybakina served well until the eighth game, when she lost serve and brought Sabalenka back to 4-4. Aryna lost her serve again in the ninth game, and Elena closed the opener with a hold at love at 5-4.

The Belarusian survived an early challenge at the beginning of the second set and grabbed a break in game four for 3-1. Rybakina denied more break points in the sixth game, remaining one break of serve behind. Elena denied set points on serve at 2-5 before Aryna secured the set with a fine hold in game nine, forcing a decider.

Sabalenka grabbed a decisive break in the seventh game, moving in front and serving for the title at 5-4. She saved a break point and seized the fourth match point to emerge at the top and celebrate her first Major title. Novak Djokovic delivered his tenth Australian Open trophy a year ago after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and 55 minutes.

It was Djokovic's 22nd Major crown, matching Rafael Nadal's record and earning a boost for the rest of the season.

Novak Djokovic, 2023 Australian Open© Kelly Defina / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak used his experience and outplayed his opponent in the pivotal moments.

The Serb lost serve once and fired more winners than unforced errors. The Greek fought well in sets two and three, missing his chances and finishing runner-up. Djokovic was off to a rock-solid start, overpowering Tsitsipas for an early advantage.

Novak lost five points in his games and missed his chances early in the set. However, he fixed that in game four, securing a break after Stefanos' double fault and moving 3-1 in front. Djokovic served for the opener at 5-3, firing a service winner to wrap up the first part of the duel after 36 minutes.

Tsitsipas made no mistakes in his games in the second set, holding with ease six times and earning a chance on the return at 5-4. Novak faced a set point and erased it with a forehand down the line winner to prolong the battle.

The set went into a tie break, and Stefanos climbed back from 1-4. However, he missed a routine backhand in the tenth point, offering Novak two set points.

Novak Djokovic will play in the mixed doubles with Aryna Sabalenka on January 11.

Djokovic clinched the first with a powerful serve, forging two sets to love advantage after an hour and 46 minutes. The Serb used a toilet break and lost his focus for a moment. A nine-time champion played a loose backhand in the first game, losing serve for the only time.

Instead of building on that, Tsitsipas squandered 30-0 in the second game and got broken after a forced error, bringing Djokovic back to 1-1. Novak served well in the seventh game for 4-3, and Stefanos fired four winners in the next one to remain on the positive side.

Feeling no pressure, the Serb secured his third straight hold at love for 5-4, forcing the Greek to serve to stay in the match. Tsitsipas stood two points away from defeat before finding two winners that got him out of jail, leveling the score at 5-5 and adding more drama.

Aryna Sabalenka, Australian Open 2023© Kelly Defina / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak presented the nerves of steal in the 11th game, adding his fourth hold at love in a row and sending the pressure back to the other side.

Stefanos served well in the 12th game, bringing it home without issues and introducing another tie break. Djokovic moved 2-0 up with a forehand return winner and forced Tsitsipas' error for 4-0. The Greek netted a backhand in the fifth point, falling further behind and sending the Serb two points away from the triumph.

Stefanos clinched an extended rally in the sixth point and passed Novak at the net for 3-5. Djokovic fired a forehand down the line winner in the ninth point for three match points, and Tsitsipas denied the opening two on his serve.

Novak seized the third with a forced error, celebrating his 22nd Major title and the tenth in Melbourne, never losing the final at his beloved Rod Laver Arena.

Novak Djokovic Aryna Sabalenka Maria Sakkari
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