Ferrer, who beat Verdasco in both of their previous matches this year (in Auckland semis and Acapulco final), dominated the baseline rallies throughout the first set.
World no.16 Verdasco put up a much bigger fight in the second set, but it was only enough for him to force a tiebreak, in which Ferrer stepped up a gear and showed his dominance once more.
Ferrer is a former runner-up here at the Foro Italico, having lost to Nadal in the 2010 final.
In the remaining first round matches, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez won another battle of the Spaniards as he overcame Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-1 and set up a second round encounter against the winner of the match between American Donald Young and the 11th seed Gilles Simon of France.
Also through to round 2 is the 16th seed Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who beat Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-1 7-6 (6).
Three breaks of serve were more than enough for this year’s finalist Gasquet to clinch the match in 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Gasquet will face Italy’s wild card holder Paolo Lorenzi, who eliminated Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 2-6 6-3 in yesterday’s first round.
15th seed Feliciano Lopez is out after losing in straight sets 6-4 6-4 to fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers.