But he recovered impressively from dropping the second set tonight to race through the decider and secure a 7-5 3-6 6-1 victory.
"I was a bit surprised with the score in the final set but not how hard I had to work for it," said Berdych afterwards.
"I played well and finished it well."
A Tsonga win would have sent Novak Djokovic, a three-set winner over Murray earlier, through to the semi-finals and eliminated Berdych, but tonight's result means nothing has yet been decided.
This was Berdych and Tsonga's third meeting in a month after clashes in Shanghai and Stockholm, both of which were won by the Czech.
He looked like he may have blown his chance in the first set when he missed a simple volley on break point in the seventh game, but made amends in the 11th game and served it out.
Tsonga, who lost to Roger Federer in last year's final, was staring at the exit door as a straight-sets defeat would have seen him eliminated tonight but he hit back and broke for a 3-1 lead in the fourth game of the second set.
The popular Frenchman then saved a break point on his way to serving out the set, and had two chances to break Berdych in the opening game of the decider but it was the Czech's turn to dig in.
That proved to be a crucial moment as Berdych broke in the fourth game and polished off victory in an hour and 52 minutes with his fifth game in a row.
The result means none of the players are yet through or eliminated, although Djokovic only needs a set against Berdych while a straight-sets win for Murray over Tsonga would be enough for the third seed.
The round-robin format has led to complicated scenarios in the past, most notably in 2009 when Murray was eliminated by a game, but Berdych insisted he will pay no attention to that side of it.
The Czech, who registered his first win in London this year today after first-round losses at Wimbledon and the Olympics, said: "I don't like mathematics at all. I will try to play tennis and that's it."
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