"I was saying to (caddie) Jamie, "I think 17 might have cost us today", Fitzpatrick said.
That did not last long as an excellent tee-shot by Zanotti at the par three 11th helped cut the gap to one and with Hend missing the green on the same hole, they shared the lead at 11 under.
Scott Hend slumped back down to earth in a third round of the European Masters he was unable to finish, but still leads by two strokes going into the final day in Crans-Montana.
Hend, playing in the final group, found a birdie at the par-five 15th though, before Fitzpatrick bogeyed the penultimate hole to leave the pair tied at the top and headed for a play-off on the par-four 18th.
Hend pocketed $A450,000 for his troubles, but it was the second time in as many years he has been denied the title in a play-off.
The three are among 12 players with holes to complete and round three will resume at 07:00 BST on Sunday, with round four scheduled to start at 08:55 in a three-ball format.
Fabrizio Zanotti had reined him in by the turn but with the Paraguayan making two double-bogeys in three holes, Hend's 11-under-par total was enough to give him a cushion with five holes of round three to complete on Sunday.
"We kept our nerve and played really smart all week". "He's a good champion".
Leading overnight by one shot, Hend was 2 over par for his 13 holes.
Hend was defeated by an Alex Noren birdie on the first extra hole here last season en route to finishing a career-high 27th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
India's Shiv Kapur carded two-under 68 in the final round to get to six- under 274 and finished tied 20th at the Omega European Masters golf tournament.
The 23-year-old Englishman shot a closing six-under 64 to end on 14 under at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in Switzerland.