It wasn't the fact Nadal hit his stride that Gaudio didn't challenge for Roland Garros or other bigger titles, it was because of himself. He wasn't just losing to Nadal, he was looking to the likes of Christophe Rochus, Olivier Patience, Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, well past it and out of shape Marat Safin amongst others. He was always an unpredictable player and that's one of the reasons which made him like-able to many, myself included.
As for Verkerk. It didn't seem like he ensured a one sided final at the time, it seemed like if he played the level of tennis he did against Coria, that he'd leave Ferrero with another plate. Nobody was talking about Ferrero, it was all Verkerk and how the match was on his racket. Unfortunately it ended up like Soderling's finals. Verkerk played like a better version of Soderling during that championship. He was far superior at the net and he moved better, especially moving forwards, which he did plenty of. Verkerk made that tournament very exciting.
Yes, Verker's run was outstanding. How he did it it's beyond me. He did NOTHING apart from that 2 weeks. He's gotta be the weakest grand slam finalist in the open era.