The Serb, whose fitness has been of concern ever since he captured his third grand slam title of the year at the US Open in September, took until the fifth game of the match to get on the scoreboard, but recovered from going a set down to win a tie-break in the decider to claim a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) victory.
Djokovic was forced to save a match point in an absorbing contest that lasted over two-and-a-half hours, and it was a tough outcome for Berdych, who his opponent admitted had been the better player for large swathes of the match.
“All the credit to his game, it was an incredible match, throughout most of the match he was the better player. I was hanging in there and I managed to get the win in the end,” said Djokovic.
“In this kind of match you have to be top of your game. I don’t think I was playing at the top of my game tonight, but I was fighting.”
Despite being pegged back it was Berdych who carried the greater threat in the third set. In the 12th game the Czech gained a match point after a Djokovic double-fault but badly miscued a forehand pass.
Affected by the missed opportunity, the former Wimbledon finalist floundered in a tie-break in which Djokovic displayed no mercy.