The second seed and two-time champion lost the first set, but then roared back to progress to the last 16 6-7(4) 6-1 6-1 6-1.
Read how it all unfolded under the roof on a wet day at the All England Club with our game-by-game updates below.
1pmAfternoon all! Day six of Wimbledon is upon us and what a day we have ahead of us. The middle Saturday sees Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer all in action on Centre Court! Here we'll be focussing on the former as Nadal takes on Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin.
1.03pmIt is traditional on the middle Saturday for sporting stars from across the globe to sit in the Royal Box. There's so many big names ready for a day of tennis, with David Beckham, Sachin Tendulkar, Tom Daley, Sir Bobby Charlton, Andrew Strauss, Stuart Broad and many more. Here's Ian Poulter with Beckham backstage:
1.06pmSue Barker is currently introducing all of the big names to the Centre Court. Mr Beckham is sure to get the biggest cheer.
1.09pmAnyway, enough celeb-spotting. Let's take a look at how the two players got here. Nadal has been fairly unconvincing so far, losing the first set in both of his first two matches but fighting back to win in four. In round one he saw off Martin Klizan and then beat a former conquerer of his - Lukas Rosol - on Thursday.
1.11pmKukushkin, meanwhile, is yet to lose a set at this year's Championships, beating unseeded duo Dudi Sela and Frank Dancevic to reach round three. Nadal is sure to provide a much, much sterner test.
1.19pmBecause of overcast conditions in SW19, the roof is on Centre Court to ensure that play isn't interrupted. I was there for Roger Federer's match on Thursday and the atmosphere certainly is special when the roof is on. Play on all the other courts is set to be hampered throughout the day. I'll keep you up to date with any big scores from elsewhere during Nadal's match.
1.21pmH2H: These two have met twice before, in Monaco and Bangkok, with Nadal winning both on straight sets.
1.24pmNew Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera is also inside Centre Court to cheer on his fellow countryman Nadal. We profiled the Spaniard earlier today and you can read about him here ➜ http://bit.ly/HerreraProfile
1.28pmHere we go then, Nadal won the toss and chose to receive. Kukushkin to serve...
1.29pmA good start from the Kazakh as he fires down a big serve before plonking a forehand in the corner that Nadal can only net. The Spaniard also tumbles to the ground but is back up straight away.
1.31pmAt 30-30, Nadal dumps a backhand into the net to give Kukushkin game point but he can't take it as a loose forehand flies long. Deuce.
Kukushkin 1-0* NadalFirst game is a hold for Kukushkin as he converts on his third game point thanks to another netted backhand from Nadal.
1.34pmFirst real "oooh" from the crowd as Kukushkin unleashes a down-the-line forehand right into the corner to make it 15-15 on Rafa's serve.
1.35pmNadal follows it up with an ever better in-to-out forehand - one of Nadal's most unique strokes.
Kukushkin *1-1 NadalNice way for Nadal to wrap up the game as he ghosts into the net and finishes off the point at 40-15 with a drop volley.
1.38pmKukushkin's mishit pass dips onto the sideline and that puts him 30-0 up on serve. Impressive, nerveless start from the underdog.
Kukushkin 2-1* NadalA hold to love for Kukushkin as he swats another forehand down the line - his sixth winner of the match already. Nadal has two.
1.41pmAn update from the outside courts: Play briefly started but all the players are off again because the showers are back.
Kukushkin *2-2 NadalNadal looks like he's going to also have a love-hold, but Kukushkin rockets back a backhand return that even Rafa can't handle. The number two seed holds on the next point as Kukushkin hits wide.
1.44pmFirst challenge of the match comes from Nadal and he's right to do so as his deep return did land on the back edge of the baseline. 30-15 Kukushkin.
1.45pmThey replay the point, and what a point! Kukushkin peppers both the Nadal backhand and forehand but can't break him, losing the point by netting a forehand approach.
Kukushkin 3-2* NadalNadal sniffs a break at 30-30, but overhits on a second-serve return before Kukushkin's one-two, serve-forehand punch wraps up the game.
1.49pmNadal hits wide with a backhand to start game six. The 14-time Grand Slam winner is still yet to really get into his groove.
1.50pmKukushkin's on top at 15-30 and should open up two break points but pulls a backhand down into the net.
Kukushkin *3-3 NadalThree apiece on Centre as Nadal blasts down his first ACE of the match at 40-30.
1.55pmIt's deuce on the Kukushkin serve as the world number 58 overshoots on a forehand approach. Is Nadal about to break?
1.58pmWe're at deuce number four as Kukushkin nets a forehand. Nadal hasn't had a break point, but Kukushkin just can't put the pesky Spaniard away on game point.
Kukushkin 4-3* NadalFabulous from both players as they stretch the whole court before Nadal's on-the-stretch slice doesn't quite make it over the tape. Great game and a super hold from Kukushkin under pressure.
2.02pmBoth men have started impressively on serve, with Kukushkin getting his first serve in 62% of the time and Rafa up at 81%.
Kukushkin *4-4 NadalQuick love-hold from Rafa and he'll now look to put Kukushkin on the back foot again. Neither man has earned a break point yet.
Kukushkin 5-4* NadalMuch better from the Kazakh as he holds to 15 to move within a game of the first set.
2.09pmAn interesting fact about Kukushkin: He is coached by his wife.
Kukushkin *5-5 NadalNo problem from Nadal as he easily holds to stay in the set. Will we see a break point before the tie-break? Doesn't look likely at the moment.
Kukushkin 6-5* NadalNadal starts the game poorly, quickly falling to 40-0 down after some mishit groundstrokes. He recovers to 40-30, but can't take it to deuce as Kukushkin finds a big serve that Nadal can't return.
Kukushkin 7-6 0-0* NadalSET! Kukushkin is in front! Nadal loses the first set for the third straight time at this year's tournament to a man who, before this year, had never won at the All England Club.
2.45pmNadal apologises to his opponent after a backhand return unintentionally swerves just over the net for a clean winner. We're at deuce once again.
2.46pmHere we go then. Kukushkin hits wide and we have our first break point after 77 minutes of play...
2.47pmIt's saved straight away as Kukushkin's first serve out wide is too hot for Nadal to handle.
Kukushkin 7-6 1-3* NadalBREAK! "VAMOS!" roars the Spaniard as he converts on his second break point to move clear in the second set. He managed to break thanks to a bullet backhand return that Kukushkin couldn't get back over the net.
2.52pmTwo sublime winners from Kukushkin, one off the forehand, one off the backhand, sees him move 15-30 ahead on the Nadal serve. Rafa responds with a gorgeous, dipping forehand of his own. 30-30.
3.02pmA much better second set from Nadal, hitting 10 winners and just two unforced errors. Kukushkin had five and six.
3.03pmEntertaining start to the third as Nadal moves 0-30 in front with a rally that saw the ball travel to all parts of the court. Kukushkin slips to make it easy for Nadal to finish it off. The Kazakh is on his feet and looks fine to continue.
3.05pmNadal has a break point at the start of the third set as his forehand is simply too strong for Kukushkin.
Kukushkin 7-6 1-6 0-1* NadalBREAK! And he takes it with a heavy forehand return that Kukushkin can only net. That's six games in a row for Rafa and he's well on top after losing that first set.
Kukushkin 7-6 1-6 *0-2 NadalMake that seven games in a row for Nadal as he unleashes a backhand winner down the line. He's in complete control on Centre Court.
3.10pmThis is the scene outside Centre Court at Wimbledon. You have to feel for those who queued to get in and have been unable to see any tennis on the outside courts!
3.20pmKukushkin incorrectly stops the point to challenge and then nets a forehand to go break point down...
3.20pmWell saved by the Kazakh to take the game to deuce. Going a double break down again would surely mean the end of the set for the world number 58.
Kukushkin 7-6 1-6 1-4* NadalDOUBLE BREAK! Nadal does convert at the next opportunity, looping those trademark heavy forehands into the Kazakh's backhand before sealing the double break with a neat volley into the open court.
Kukushkin 7-6 1-6 *1-5 NadalNadal moves to within a game of the third set by holding to 15 with a forehand winner. Kukushkin hasn't troubled the Spaniard's serve all afternoon and recently has lost control on his own serve. In the third seet, he's won less than half of the points when he's got his first serve in.
Kukushkin 7-6 1-6 1-6 0-0* NadalSET! Nadal takes the overall lead after yet another commanding set. He'll serve first in the fourth too after breaking Kukushkin for a third time in the set.
3.33pmNadal again impressive in the third set with a winner-unforced error ratio of 11:1. Kukushkin had just two winners after smacking 17 in the first set.
4.03pmWhat a way to finish it for Nadal as he blasts a forehand into the corner to seal victory. He lost the first set on a tie-break, but then romped through the last three 6-1 6-1 6-1. He's into the last 16 and will face either Nick Kyrgios or Jiri Vesely (both unseeded).
4.06pmWe need to dash off, but if you're just joining us and want a recap on the match, you can find our report here. Good afternoon!