It was a curious vow of silence, ignoring the evidence, postponing the inevitable. All that has really changed since that pronouncement by the world No1 is the elimination on the other side of the draw of Roger Federer, whose exit in the quarter-finals has created a glorious chance for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to become the first Frenchman to reach the final here since Henri Leconte in 1988.
The only given is that Djokovic and Nadal will not get to repeat their 2012 struggle in the final. If it disappoints those fans craving a rematch, it lends the tournament the sort of uncertainty that has been lacking in nearly every slam decider for the past decade. While this is the ninth slam in a row in which three of the top four seeds have contested the semi-finals, as good a closed shop as exists in sport, it is the first time since Tomas Berdych gatecrashed Wimbledon three years ago that someone other than the Big Four may get his hands on a major title. That has to be good for the game.
Opinion is divided about the de facto final, leaning slightly towards Nadal, who is chasing his eighth trophy in a place that, like Monte Carlo, he can safely call home. But Djokovic has incentives of his own, such as winning his first title here and adding it to the Australian he won in Melbourne, thus keeping alive the possibility of a proper grand slam. It is not beyond him.
Nevertheless, the zest and sharpness Nadal showed in beating Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarters will have reminded the Serb how the Spaniard invariably finds his real tennis at the end of big tournaments. It was Nadal's 40th win in 42 matches of a comeback that has astonished his peers.
Friday is not all about the two best players in the world, of course. One statistic jumps out of David Ferrer's CV above all others: nobody in the history of tennis has played more grand slams, 42 (ahead of slam finalists Kim Warwick, 32, and Berdych, 28), before reaching a final. The record he does not want is Tim Henman's, of six slam semis without reaching the title match.
What he can be sure of is that the patrons of Court Philippe Chatrier will be as appreciative of his efforts as they always are – and be equally keen to wish him bon voyage after a gruelling semi-final against Tsonga, their favourite who has too often fallen short.
The Frenchman is in rousing form. Since he took on Roger Rasheed as his coach at Christmas he looks fitter, hungrier and sharper. Nobody relishes playing him when he is flying like Superman and Federer, who had played beautifully up until the quarters, admitted there was little he could do to resist Tsonga's exuberance and energy.
Ferrer will approach the challenge as he does every match, be it at the start or end of a tournament, big or small. He will hit until he drops – as he did, literally, against Andy Murray in the concluding moments of his dramatic final in Miami this year, his legs numbed by lactic acid too powerful for even his iron will.
Still, I expect Nadal to beat Djokovic in five absorbing sets, and Tsonga to drain Ferrer of his best tennis over four. What happens on Sunday may well be determined how much each winner has left after their exertions on Friday.
Elsewhere on Thursday, the British teenager Kyle Edmund, after a good tournament, went out in the junior quarter-finals to the German Alexander Zverev who won handsomely in the end, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0. Edmund, along With Ed Corrie and Dan Evans, has been awarded a wildcard into next week's Queen's tournament. Evans celebrated his with an impressive performance in the Challengers event in Nottingham, beating the latest Australian to qualify as British, Brydan Klein, winning 6-2, 6-2 to move into the second round.
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