Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic play mixed-doubles together during a charity event on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on January 11, 2024 ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship starting on January 14. Image Credit: AFP

Melbourne: Defending Champions Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka joined forces for Australian Open charity match against Greek stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari before a sold-out crowd at Rod Laver Arena.

The purpose of the evening was a charitable one, with ticket proceeds supporting a range of children’s charities through the Australian Tennis Foundation.

'A Night with Novak and Friends' was one of four evening charity match events being staged this week as part of an expanded AO Opening.

“I’m super happy to be back, it’s my favourite place. And I’m happy to join these great players tonight and hopefully you guys will have fun and enjoy our tennis," Sabalenka said after walking onto court to huge cheers as quoted by tournament's website.

Ahead of teaming up with Djokovic, she laughed: "I'll put a bit of pressure on him."

Two players, who are already good friends, were an entertaining duo and at one point headed to the side of the court for an iconic pose alongside the AO men's and women’s singles trophies.

Djokovic and Sabalenka will commence their title defences on Sunday the first day of play in the expanded 15-day main draw at Australian Open 2024.