The tournament, considered a key tune-up for next month's French Open, gives its top eight seeds first-round byes. The No. 9 Nalbandian was the highest seeded player in the opening round.
Nalbandian won just three games in the first set but lost just three in the last two in defeating Federico Luzzi 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 14-seeded Marcos Baghdatis was ousted in straight sets by Max Mirnyi in the upset of the day. No. 13 Mikhail Youzhny advanced with a 6-2, 3-1 score when Carlos Moya, who suffered a left adductor injury and 16th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero was a 7-5, 6-2 winner over Tim Henman.