Ferrero snapped Nadal’s 17-match winning streak at the Foro Italico in one hour and 55 minutes on Stadio Pietrangeli. The 28-year-old broke the Nadal serve in the 11th game to clinch the opening set and broke twice more in the fourth and sixth games of the second set. Nadal won 13 points in the second set. It was Ferrero’s first win over the World No. 2 since August 2006 at ATP Masters Series Cincinnati.
The last time Nadal lost to a Spaniard on clay came in the 2004 Stuttgart quarterfinals to David Ferrer. It was his first loss on clay since 2007 ATP Masters Series Hamburg final (l. to Federer) and his first opening round loss on clay at an ATP-level tournament. Nadal now has a 117-4 record on red dirt since 2005.
Ferrero, who finished runner-up to Philipp Kohlschreiber at Auckland in January, improves to 15-9 on the season and 35-46 lifetime against Top 10 players in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. His last Top 10 win came over No. 4 Marat Safin in the second round of 2005 ATP Masters Series Hamburg.
The 21-year-old Nadal, a four-time winner at ATP Masters Series Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, drops to 32-7 on the season. Over the course of his career, Nadal is 143-14 on clay (20-1 in finals).
Eighth seed James Blake(pictured right) recorded only his second victory in five appearances at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, since reaching the quarterfinals on his debut in 2002.
The American World No. 8 defeated Andreas Seppi of Italy 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes. It was his first clay-court win at a European tournament since the ARAG World Team Championships at Dusseldorf in May 2007.
Blake, who has finished runner-up at two ATP tournaments at Delray Beach (l. to Nishikori) and Houston (l. to Granollers) this year, hit six aces and converted five of 12 break point opportunities. He dropped 10 points on serve in the third set to improve to 2-1 against Seppi. Blake also won at ATP Masters Series Miami in March.
Rotterdam quarterfinalist Seppi, who is currently No. 46 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, drops to 2-4 at the Foro Italico and 10-12 on the season. His best ATP Masters Series performance came at 2005 Hamburg, when he reached the 2005 quarterfinals (l. to Gasquet).
Blake will next meet Fernando Verdasco of Spain, who battled past Ecuadorian qualifier Nicolas Lapentti 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes.
Spaniard Tommy Robredo, the No. 14 seed, set up a third round clash with World No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko after avenging his Rotterdam loss to Nicolas Mahut of France with a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory in one hour and 59 minutes. Robredo last beat Davydenko at 2006 Bastad.
Swiss No. 2 Stanislas Wawrinka avenged two defeats earlier in the season against Andy Murray with a 6-2, 7-6(5) win over the Scot to reach the third round. Wawrinka, who won just 21 matches last year, improved to a 19-9 record on the season and next meets Ferrero.