The Swedish number one crashed out of the $400,000-dollar ATP tournament with an embarrassing two-set loss.
The world number eight failed to raise his game in his first appearance on Indian soil and lost 6-4, 7-5 to the 100th-ranked Ginepri in an hour and 31 minutes.
Söderling, who ended Rafael Nadal’s reign at the French Open last year on way to his maiden Grand Slam final, came to India after beating world number one Roger Federer in Abu Dhabi last week.
But Ginepri attacked Söderling consistently from the baseline, before clinching victory on his second match point as the Swede netted a deep return of serve.
“It’s great to start the year with an important win,” said Ginepri, who has struggled to match his career-best rank of 15 in 2005 when he reached the semi-finals of the US Open.
“Robin has had a fantastic run in the past year, and one is never sure what to expect in the first round against a player of his calibre.
“But I just wanted to serve and return well and it all came together in the end. I am quite excited about this win.”
Söderling conceded his game fell apart, but brushed aside suggestions the heat of Chennai had sapped his energy.
“Everything went wrong, but the heat was not a factor,” the Swede said. “I tried my best, but it was an off-day. I was just not hitting the ball well.
“It is hopefully just a one-off thing.”
Söderling said he was looking to play in another tournament before the Australian Open which starts in Melbourne on January 18th.
“I need to play a few matches before the Open. Maybe I will play at Kooyong (an exhibition event in Australia).”
Eighth seed Rajeev Ram of the United States also made an early exit after a 6-1, 6-1 defeat against Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker.
Indian qualifier Prakash Amritraj fell in straight sets to American Michael Russell, while Marcel Granollers of Spain came from behind to defeat James Ward of Britain 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.