Thiem beat Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) to advance to the final against No. 2 Novak Djokovic, the defending champion. American Sofia Kenin battles Garbine Muguruza in the women's singles final Saturday in Melbourne. Njokovic beat Roger Federer in straight sets to advance to Sunday's final on the men's circuit.
"It was an unreal match," Thiem said. "Two tiebreaks and so tough and so close. It was almost impossible to break [Zverev]. He had such a high percentage on his first serve.
Being in "the Australian Open final is unreal. What a start to the season so far."
Zverev outplayed Thiem in many important statistical categories in Friday's 3:42 match at Rod Laver Arena. The German had 16 aces, compared to Theim's 10. He also had three double faults and 33 unforced errors, compared to Thiem's four double faults and 40 unforced errors. Thiem did not have any unforced errors on returns and fired 43 winners in the triumph.
Thiem took a 3-2 lead in the first set by winning the fifth game. Zverev then won the next five games to claim the first set. Zverev won the first game of the second set, before Thiem bounced back. The Austrian won three consecutive games to take a 3-1 lead. Zverev rallied back to tie the set at 3-3, before Thiem won three of the final four games to take the second set.
Thiem raced out to a 3-1 lead in the third set. Zverev responded by winning three consecutive games. Thiem won the 10th game of the set on a Zverev backhand forced error, before Zverev won the 11th game on a Thiem backhand forced error. Thiem then won the final two games of the set to carry a lead into the fourth set.
Zverev and Thiem exchanged game points in the fourth set until they forced a tiebreak. Thiem eventually claimed match point on a forehand winner.
Thiem and Djokovic face off at 3:30 a.m. EST Sunday in Melbourne.