The fifth-seeded Frenchman, who won a tournament in Montpellier just over a week ago, easily won the opening set against Luxembourg's world number 70 Gilles Muller.
But Muller battled back to win the second before taking the third set on a tie-break to wrap up a 2-6 6-4 7-6(5) victory.
Muller will now face world number 35 Marcel Granollers in the second round after the Spaniard produced another disappointment for the home fans: a straight sets victory over former world top 10 star Gael Monfils.
At the Memphis International, third seed John Isner was halted in the first round by Denis Istomin, the 63rd ranked Uzbek winning in straight sets 6-4 6-3.
American Isner, ranked 16 in the world, looked sluggish and made a number of unforced errors, while Istomin capitalised by breaking three times on his way to victory in just over an hour.
Istomin moves into the second round where he will meet the winner of the match between Yen-Hsun Lu and Lleyton Hewitt.
And at the Buenos Aires Open, world number 17 Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded third in Argentina, eased into the second round with a 6-3 6-3 win over Italy's Paolo Lorenzi.
After the day's play was delayed by rain, the Swiss opened his Copa Clara campaign without too much fuss, although he was forced to save five break points on his way to victory in just under an hour.
Wawrinka, who has reached the semis in Buenos Aires in the past two years, moves on to meet Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain in the next round as he bids to win his third career clay-court title.
Top seed David Ferrer takes to the court for the first time on Wednesday, the Spaniard taking on Argentine wild card Agustin Velotti.
ATP Marseille results:
Marcel Granollers (Spain) beat Gael Monfils (France) 6-4 6-4
Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) beat 5-Richard Gasquet (France) 2-6 6-4 7-6(5)
Roberto Bautista (Spain) beat Filip Krajinovic (Serbia) 4-6 7-6(5) 6-0
Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) beat Jarkko Nieminen (Finland) 6-3 6-2
Michael Llodra (France) beat David Goffin (Belgium) 6-2 6-4
Nikolay Davydenko (Russia) beat Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukraine) 6-2 4-6 6-2
Somdev Devvarman (India) beat Benoit Paire (France) 7-6(6) 6-7(7) 6-4
ATP Memphis results:
5-Kei Nishikori (Japan) beat Illya Marchenko (Ukraine) 6-4 7-5
Denis Istomin (Uzbekistan) beat 3-John Isner (U.S.) 6-4 6-3
Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Benjamin Becker (Germany) 4-6 6-3 6-4
4-Sam Querrey (U.S.) beat Alejandro Falla (Colombia) 6-3 6-3
James Blake (U.S.) beat Florian Mayer (Germany) 4-6 6-3 6-2
Igor Sijsling (Netherlands) beat Jurgen Melzer (Austria) 6-4 7-6(3)
Michael Russell (U.S.) beat Alex Bogomolov Jr (Russia) 6-2 6-4
ATP Buenos Aires results:
3-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) beat Paolo Lorenzi (Italy) 6-3 6-3
Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) beat Simone Bolelli (Italy) 5-7 6-2 6-3
Daniel Gimeno-Traver (Spain) beat Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) 6-4 7-5
Albert Montanes (Spain) beat 7-Pablo Andujar (Spain) 5-7 6-2 6-4
Andrey Kuznetsov (Russia) beat Filippo Volandri (Italy) 7-6(5) 6-3
Julian Reister (Germany) beat Martin Alund (Argentina) 7-5 6-1
Tommy Robredo (Spain) beat Gastao Elias (Portugal) 6-3 6-0
- Sports & Recreation
- Denis Istomin
- Marcel Granollers
- Gilles Muller