In 1989, Sabatini was ranked number three, but she was generally regarded as not reaching her full potential as a player. Many tennis observers thought she could be a great rival to Steffi Graf, and one of the futures of women's tennis, but she never made it. Though Sabatini would appear in a semifinal of a Grand Slam every year and win a tournament every year from 1985-95 (except 1993), she did not win big.
Martina Navratilova told Robin Finn of the New York Times, "She's so erratic. Her game is more complicated than Steffi [Graf]'s, and she's got better ground strokes. But.…" In the late 1980s, Sabatini thought about quitting, admitting that she did not have the mental edge to win.