Chelsea 3 Ipswich Town 1
Frank Lampard hit a blistering 30-yarder five minutes from time to secure a 3-1 victory, but the Blues had a scare from their Championship opponents as they equalised Ballack's 16th minute opener when Alex Bruce tucked home from close range on 32 minutes.
But the Germany captain and then Lampard struck excellent free-kicks to break the spirit of the Suffolk visitors.
Chelsea started off well and Florent Malouda forced a fine save from Richard Wright on two minutes as Chelsea went on the offensive from the off.
However, Town countered with a fine attack on seven minutes which saw Danny Haynes' looping header just sail over Petr Cech's crossbar.
Chelsea missed a sitter three minutes later when Ballack was completely free eight yards out but flashed a fierce left-footer wide of goal.
But the inevitable happened and on 16 minutes the home side scored. Lampard sent Ashley Cole free on the left and his first-time by-line pass found Ballack, who connected with a low right-foot volley to send the ball wide of Wright and into the net.
Lampard could have doubled the lead when a controlled build-up play saw his drive from the edge of the box go wide.
On 27 minutes Tommy Miller saw an excellent right-foot free-kick get over the Chelsea wall but fail to dip quickly enough to trouble Cech.
Ipswich got their equaliser on 32 minutes when an Owen Garvan free-kick saw the ball rebound off Ricardo Carvalho's chest into the path of Bruce, who four yards out, tucked home a right-footer past Cech.
Amazingly, a minute later, a quick counter-attack almost saw the visitors take the lead, but Haynes skied over a fine chance from just inside the area.
Two minutes before the break Wright produced a smart save from Jose Bosingwa's left-footer, which was heading for the inside of his near post.
Chelsea took just three minutes to attack the Ipswich goal in the second half - Salomon Kalou junked his was across the edge of the area before unleashing a right-footed drive, but the ball curled just wide of the Ipswich goal.
Didier Drogba returned to the fold on 58 minutes after a two-week absence in the naughty step replacing ineffective Malouda.
Within seconds Ballack hit his second goal with a wonderful right-footed free-kick from 25 yards out, giving Wright no chance.
Wright was forced to make two brave saves on 66 minutes, first from Ballack and then a follow-up from Bosingwa as the Blues went in search of a third goal.
But Lampard struck a brilliant 30-yard right-footed free-kick which sailed past the despairing dive of Wright to secure a victory that was more professional than outstanding.