The Serbian, who asked for his 19th grand slam title, was forced to dig deep to keep the resurgent Berrettini out and eventually won 6-3 6-2 6-7 (5) 7-5.
The match had looked like a formality for Djokovic bursting through the two opening sets, but Berrettini gathered in the third to produce an exciting finish to the quarter-finals, which even saw world No. 1 suffer cuts on his hands after a dramatic fall.
Both players also had to contend with a break in the game midway through the fourth set with supporters forced to leave in line with Paris’ Covid-19 curfew.
A group of fans remained seated and bowed to the instructions, forcing both players off the field until the stadium was emptied.
Despite the distractions, the fiery Djokovic took advantage of a third match point in the fourth set, sparking wild-eyed celebrations aimed at his box.
“This match had it all: fall, crowd, break,”
“It was just super, super stressful to be constantly under pressure […] the reaction in the end was just me releasing the tension that built up for the entire match. “
Djokovic will now meet Rafael Nadal on Friday for a place in the final of Roland Garros. The pair have had an intense rivalry throughout their careers with Djokovic leading head-to-head 29-28.
However, Nadal is dominant on clay and won his 13th French Open title in October last year by beating Djokovic in the final.
“It’s not like any other match. Let’s face it, it’s the biggest challenge one can play on clay against Nadal on this course. It will not get bigger than that,” Djokovic said after winning his quarter-final.
“There’s the extra excitement and expectations. The vibes are different on the pitch with him. But that’s why our rivalry has been historic, I think for this sport.
“I’m sure. I think I can win, otherwise I would not be here. Let’s have a great fight.”