Djokovic was hoping to win a fourth Wimbledon title and also had a chance of reclaiming his World No 1 ranking after Andy Murray’s defeat to Sam Querrey earlier in the day.
But during the first set of his match against the experienced Berdych, Djokovic began to struggle with an elbow injury. After his defeat, he revealed the elbow had been troubling him for 12 to 18 months, and that it had been hurting more intensely as Wimbledon progressed.
“It's unfortunate I have to finish the Wimbledon grand slam this way," Djokovic said after his loss. “I tried to get it in the condition where I was able to play.
“I was able for 30 minutes to play with pain that was bearable. The serve and forehand were the shots where I could feel it the most and after that there was really no sense (in continuing).”
Djokovic lost a first-set tiebreak to Berdych and began experiencing real difficulty with his serve, before he decided to retire early into the second set, with the score at 6-7 (2-7) 0-2.
“The intensity and the level of pain was not decreasing,” he added. “It was only increasing as the days went by. Actually, I started feeling it already more or less at the beginning of the tournament.
“I kept doing everything with my physiotherapist, and physiotherapist of ATP, what we possibly could to try to recover it and get it into the state where I'm actually able to perform. I was able to perform up to this stage. But as I've said, it was only getting worse.
“Unfortunately today was the worst day. Probably the fact that I played yesterday, kind of days adding up, you know, as I've said before, it wasn't helping at all.”
Berdych, who has never won a Grand Slam, will now play Roger Federer for a place in Sunday’s final.
Berdych famously beat Federer in the quarter-finals at the 2010 Championships, on his way to the final which he lost to Rafael Nadal.
Federer was the overwhelming favourite to win that match but Berdych prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4, and he will need to produce a similar upset if he is to make this year’s final, where either Querrey or Marin Cilic await.