Safin is a three-time champion in Paris
Marat Safin began the final tournament of his career in dramatic style by saving three match points as he beat Thierry Ascione at the Paris Masters.
The Russian, 29, announced in January his intention to retire at the end of the season and received a wildcard to play in Paris as a former champion.
Safin began with a 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-3) win over Frenchman Ascione, ranked 168.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are among a strong field in Paris.
It is the final tournament of the regular season, with only the ATP World Tour Finals for the top eight in the world to follow in London later in the month.
Safin, a former world number one and US and Australian Open champion, has guaranteed himself at least one more high-profile match as he will face fifth seed and US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in round two.
I am just here to finish on a good note and to say goodbye to everybody
The Russian is not exactly confident though, saying: "Do you really believe that I am going to beat him? I think the level he is playing at the moment that I have no chance, but I will try and give him a good match."
The three-time Paris champion, ranked 65 in the world, eased a set and a break up on Ascione before the loose play that has marked his game in recent years took hold.
Ascione levelled the match and soon found himself with three match points in the final set, but Safin saved each one with an ace and dominated the decisive tie-break.
"This time I know I have no pretensions to the title," Safin said afterwards. "I am just here to finish on a good note and to say goodbye to everybody.
"It has become increasingly more difficult to pack my bags and leave home this season."
Britain's fourth seed Andy Murray is in the same quarter of the draw and will take on American James Blake in his opening match.
The top 16 seeds have byes in the first round, with Federer to open against Julien Benneteau or Philipp Petzschner and Nadal up against Marco Chiudinelli or Nicolas Almagro.
Much of the interest will centre on the two remaining places up for grabs at the Tour Finals, with Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco in pole position to secure spots at the O2 Arena.
Other winners on Monday were John Isner, Albert Montanes, Viktor Troicki, Andreas Seppi, Ivo Karlovic, Tomas Berdych, Lukasz Kubot and Ivan Ljubicic.