Coric earned passage to the final by taking down the top-seeded Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals on Saturday.
The 21-year-old played the whole match by relentlessly attacking neutral balls in baseline rallies to gain control. "It's going to be definitely a close match", said Djokovoic.
Serb Djokovic thrashed German world number five 6-2 6-1 in just over an hour to reach Sunday's final.
Zverev became the first German to seal a spot in successive years in the season-ending event since six-times Grand Slam victor Boris Becker (1994-96).
He had lost his only previous meeting with Zverev, in the 2017 Internazionali d'Italia final, and faced early pressure in this match as the youngster started strongly.
Touted as a potential future multiple Grand Slam victor, fourth seed Zverev eased past Kyle Edmund to reach his first Shanghai semi-final.
Louis Saha rips Paul Pogba for putting pressure on Jose Mourinho
The France global believes he is capable of being a leader at United without having the captain's armband. For example, I've never won the Premier League , that's an objective.
Djokovic did not face a break point en route to a 59-minute victory as he extended his winning streak to 17 ATP matches. Djokovic, chasing his 72nd career ATP title, will play either top seed Federer or Croatian Borna Coric in the final.
"Where I was about four months ago and where I am today is quite an extreme opposite".
"I wish I could tell you all these answers, but I really don't know".
A miss-hit Federer forehand gifted Coric the opening break of the second set for a 2-0 lead, before Coric pulled off an excellent lob and smashed an ace down the tee to move clear at 5-3.
"I saw Kei was playing extremely aggressive, especially towards the end of the second set", said the Swiss world number two, who has been content with his form this week despite being pushed to three sets in his other two matches.
A win on Sunday would deliver a fourth title for the season to Djokovic, beside Wimbledon and the US Open.
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