The Israeli is placed some 40 spots below Paire in the ATP rankings, but the world number 107 dug deep to edge a tight contest 6-4 7-6 (7-2) at the ATP 250 grass-court event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Paire engineered the first break of the match to move 4-3 ahead in the first set, but soon found himself on the back foot.
Three straight games enabled Sela to turn things around and claim the opener.
The second set proved an even contest, although Paire had to fend off a match point at 5-4 down.
He escaped on that occasion, but was outclassed when the match headed for a tie-break, leaving Sela to look forward to a second-round clash with either fourth seed Marcel Granollers or Benjamin Becker.
Sunday’s other first-round tie saw Aleksandr Nedovyesov retire early from his clash with wildcard Jesse Huta Galung.
Home favourite Galung had been leading 6-2 1-0 before Nedovyesov’s premature withdrawal.
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