The defending champion once more displayed his class on the clay as he effortlessly disposed of world number 65 Leonardo Mayer in a 6-2 7-5 6-2 victory at Roland Garros.
Mayer's prospects were not helped by 36 unforced errors, and Nadal broke seven times in a match lasting two hours and 17 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Afterwards, the Spaniard revealed that he was suffering with a back problem, though he was quick to play down the seriousness of the issue.
However, his fourth-round opponent Dusan Lajovic will hope to capitalise - the Serbian set up the showdown with Nadal courtesy of a 6-4 7-5 6-3 triumph over Jack Sock.
Murray's clash with Philipp Kohlschreiber was finely poised at 7-7 in the fifth when they were called off for bad light.
Seventh seed Murray lost the first set in a match that swung back and forth, but neither player was able to find a way to victory on Court Suzanne Lenglen, meaning the pair will resume battle on Sunday with the score at 3-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 7-7.
Despite making a bright start, Murray found himself a set down, but recovered well to claim the next two and put himself on the brink of a place in the fourth round.
However, Kohlschreiber claimed four straight games in the fourth set to come from behind and send the match to a decider.
The fifth set proved to be as tense as the rest of the encounter, with Murray once again breaking at the first opportunity only to hand the advantage straight back before the pair both gave up their own serve again.
The Scot had to survive a break point at 6-6 before the match was halted for the night.
Murray was not the only player involved in an epic five-set clash as home favourite Gael Monfils and Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez set up a fourth-round clash, having both gone the distance in their respective successes.
A partisan home crowd was thrilled as 23rd seed Monfils edged his encounter 5-7 6-2 6-4 0-6 6-2 against Fabio Fognini.
There were 19 breaks of serve throughout, while Fognini's topsy-turvy showing was emphasised by 43 winners being cancelled out by 81 unforced errors.
Garcia-Lopez looked to be cruising after taking a two-set lead versus Donald Young, but the American came back strong before eventually succumbing to a 6-2 6-4 2-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 defeat.
Last year's runner-up David Ferrer is hoping to go one better this year, and the Spanish fifth seed put in a superb showing in a 6-2 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 victory over Italy's Andreas Seppi, and now meets Kevin Anderson who was one set up against Ivo Karlovic before the Croat retired injured.
As with Murray and Kohlschreiber, Richard Gasquet and Fernando Verdasco will meet again on Sunday with the Frenchman trailing 3-6 2-6 2-2.
Elsewhere, Marcel Granollers completed his win over Martin Klizan, winning 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 after their match was halted overnight.