Sela reached the semifinals in his first tournament of the year prior to the Australian Open. He has made it past the second round only one other time.
He advanced Monday by defeating Jesse Levine 6-4, 7-6 (8-6).
In the only other matches played Monday, Wayne Odesnik ousted Jerzy Janowicz 6-3, 6-4 and Blaz Kavcic won over Denis Istomin 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
The top four seeds in this tournament -- Fernando Gonzalez, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Lleyton Hewitt -- received byes past the first round.
Gonzalez will take on either Kevin Anderson or Donald Young in the second round.