Berdych’s 6-3 6-1 victory in Group A was the fifth year in succession he had hit back to win his second group match at the year-ender having lost his first.
It also continued the theme of straight-sets wins this year, with none of the seven matches played so far having gone the distance.
Cilic, making his debut appearance at the showpiece event this year having won the U.S. Open, never looked comfortable from the moment he dropped serve in the first game.
He did have two break points to get back to 4-4 in the first set but Berdych held form and went on to dominate the rest of the match, clinching victory in one hour, 14 minutes.
“I think that’s the beauty of this event,” he told reporters after keeping alive his hopes of claiming a semi-final spot with a top-two finish in Group A.
“One day you can be swept out from the court like I was and in two days’ time you can come up and play different tennis.
“Basically there were no miracles in that time in between the matches. I just had a good practice session yesterday, good rest, refocused again, and ready to go for another match.”
Berdych, who lost 6-1 6-1 to Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday, will now go into his final match against world number one Novak Djokovic still hopeful of a semi-final place, but Cilic, who has managed only five games in two matches, would need a bizarre sequence of results to reach the weekend.
Djokovic faces Wawrinka later.