It was a bad day to be Spanish on centre court in Auckland today as two of the Heineken Open's big names departed in the space of a couple of hours.

Teenage sensation Rafael Nadal pulled out of his first round match after the first set against defending champion Dominik Hrbaty complaining of a sore chest.

But he was never more than a 50-50 proposition to beat the in-form and resilient Hrbaty.

However Czech Republic qualifier Jan Hernych tipping out former world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero set the tournament on its head.

Hernych, a 25-year-old from Prague and world No 83, played like a man possessed to win 6-7 (1-7) 6-1 6-3 as Ferrero failed to come to grips with both his, and his opponent's, games.

It could have been all over in straight sets as Hernych had a couple of set points in the first, couldn't take them and was blown away in the tiebreak.

With the greatest respect to Hernych, it was not a result the tournament officials would have envisaged when they picked up Ferrero as one of the main Open drawcards.

"I didn't play my best tennis," Ferrero said in a massive understatement. "But he played good tennis, with my help sometimes."

Ferrero's serve was ordinary and he seemed off his game although he maintained physically he felt good during the match.

Hernych, buoyed by three wins in qualifying, and his familiarity with the hardcourt surface, suddenly realised the win was on.

"I think it has given me some confidence because he's a great player. The whole match I played very good," Hernych said.

He grew up on clay but reckons hardcourt is his best surface. That's no surprise after yesterday, but he believes it is not his finest win.

Pride of place goes to his victory over Brazilian ace Gustavo Kuerten at Toronto last year.

Hernych underwent corrective surgery on his nose before New Year. Breathing was difficult.

Not any more. Instead it's the Spanish challenge in the Open which needed reviving after his exploits.

Hernych's reward is a match against another Spaniard, Alberto Martin, for a place in the quarterfinals.

Nadal said he felt pain in his chest early in his match against Hrbaty, tried to play through it but could not shake it off.

He said it was the second time it had happened to him and "I was scared".

"I thought to stop was better," Nadal said.

Martin kept the Spanish flag flying with a straight sets win over qualifier Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

- NZPA