Ferrer and Stanislas Wawrinka stepped out of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's shadows on Friday as defending champions Spain and Switzerland were locked 1-1 in their Davis Cup World Group opener.
Ferrer, the world number 16, eased past Marco Chiudinelli 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 after Wawrinka, the world number 19, had come back to defeat Nicolas Almagro 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 on the clay courts of Logrono.
Four-time champions Spain have won their last 18 home ties in the Davis Cup and are also on a 20-tie winning streak on clay.
But they are playing without Nadal as well as fellow top stars Fernando Verdasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero while world number one Federer opted out of the first round clash for the Swiss.
That left Wawrinka, playing for the first time since becoming a father and having taken a six-week break, to carry his country's burden.
"I dedicate this win to my daughter Alexia and my wife Ilham. It was not easy to leave my home after two weeks so I?m very happy," said Wawrinka.
In Belgrade, 32-time winners the United States, without world number eight Andy Roddick, were staring at defeat after losing both opening rubbers to Serbia.
Viktor Troicki saw off John Isner 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4 before world number two Novak Djokovic defeated Sam Querrey 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3.
"I expected a great fight and I had some fears in terms of my physical condition and the quick return to clay courts," said Djokovic.
France opened up a 2-0 lead over Germany in Toulon with Gael Monfils seeing off Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) before Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame a third set blip to defeat Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3. Germany have not come back from a 2-0 deficit for 50 years while it is 72 years since they last beat France.
The Czech Republic, last year's runners-up, took a 2-0 lead over Belgium in Bree with Tomas Berdych beating Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 and Radek Stepanek seeing off Xavier Malisse 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
India were outclassed by two-time champions Russia with Igor Kunitsyn battling from a set down to clinch a 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-4 win over Somdev Devvarman.
Mikhail Youzhny then enjoyed a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 romp against Rohan Bopanna, a player ranked more than 400 places below him in the rankings, on the hardcourts of Moscow's Luzhniki Small Sports arena.
Bopanna hopes that Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi can keep India in the tie by winning Saturday's doubles against Kunitsyn and Teimuraz Gabashvili.
"These guys are on a 23-game unbeaten streak, so we know we can get that point and stay alive for Sunday?s reverse singles matches," said Bopanna.
In other first round ties, 2005 champions Croatia were 2-0 ahead of Ecuador with Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic both winning their rubbers while Sweden were 1-1 with Argentina.
World number seven Robin Soderling gave new captain Thomas Enqvist a winning start with a 6-1, 7-6 (7/0), 7-5 victory over Eduardo Schwank but Leonardo Mayer levelled the tie by defeating Joachim Johansson 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Argentina are playing without US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco who were both injured.
Chile and Israel will begin on Saturday after their tie was delayed following last weekend's devastating earthquake.